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Geneva daily still seeks buyer as suitors bow out

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Photo: Wikimedia Commons
10:34 CET+01:00
One of the prospective buyers of Le Temps has bowed out of the running for the only national daily French-language newspaper in Switzerland, put up for sale by its majority owners the Ringier and Tamedia groups.

L’Agefi, the Geneva-based business journal, said on Thursday night that it could not reach an agreement with the newspaper’s owners.

The price proposed for the quality daily was not “realistic and reasonable,” L’Agefi said in a statement.

Discussions between the two sides were stopped, it said.

An initial offer by L’Agefi was refused by Ringier and Tamedia, who together control the Geneva-based paper with equal shares.

Antoine Hubert, part owner of L’Agefi with Franco-Swiss financier Alain Duménil, said in October that acquiring Le Temps was among the different strategic options open to the journal’s owners.

More than a dozen prospective buyers for the Temps surfaced when Ringier and Tamedia announced more than two months ago that they had decided to put the financially challenged paper up for sale.

But the ranks of those still interested have thinned.

Ringier and Tamedia said they rejected a proposed buy-out by management because they were seeking a buyer ready to assume the financial risks.

Another potential candidate, Neue Zürcher Zeitung, which had expressed an interest in the title, has not submitted an offfer.

Other parties interested include Medien VielFalt Holding, owned by financier Tito Tettamanti and controversial Swiss People’s Party politician Christoph Blocher, which owns the Basler Zeitung.

Also still said to be in the running is Jean-Claude Biver, chairman of the Hublot watch brand, who said in October he was motivated by love for the French-speaking part of Switzerland but added that he did not want to “lose too much money”.

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Le Temps is regarded by many as the “paper of record” for French-speaking Switzerland but it has struggled lately.

With a drop in circulation (currently around 39,700) and advertising revenues forcing staff cuts, the paper erected a paywall for its website.

Although only founded in 1998, it is the result of a merger between two papers dating back to the 1790s and Le Nouveau Quotidien. 

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