“Annus horibilis” is how Marius Hagger, chief executive of Ringier Romania described the year 2009, at the annual conference of the company. Michael Ringier – chairman and publisher of Ringier Group, Christian Unger – CEO and Marco Castellaneta – Director Corporate Communications also attended the event.

“We are all alive, but we fell of a really high cliff. Ad market value harked back to 2002-2003 level. The difference is that back then, we were still generating profits, and now we don’t anymore”, said Hagger.

In February 2009, Ringier Romania imposed a stringent cost-cutting program, which involved the closure of the free newspaper Compact and laid off a part of Evenimentul zilei editorial staff. In the same year, the company launched its Online Division and completed the new printing works. Earlier this year, Ringier sold Evenimentul zilei and Capital titles to Bobby Paunescu and closed Diva magazine for financial reasons. The company’s portfolio is now based on Libertatea tabloid and Unica magazine.

Evenimentul zilei and Libertatea suffered the biggest loss, Marius Hagger said indirectly. “If you roll out a newspaper with high circulation every day, with few advertisements, the losses are obviously higher than in case of a magazine”.

In 2010, the company expects to turn Ringier Print to profit. The printing house is rolling out Evenimentul zilei, Libertatea and Capital newspapers. Another priority for this year will be the online division, “that a small share” in total revenues, in 2009, according to Hagger. Globally, online operations of Ringier Romania account for around 9% in total revenues.

Ringier Group recorded revenues of €907 million in 2009. Pre-tax profit fell 72% to €12 million.