German Catholic publishers saved

11 November 2013 | by Christa Pongratz-Lippitt

The German Church's Weltbild publishing house, which was suspended two years ago for selling pornographic books, said it had staved off insolvency by obtaining a new €60 million (£50.3m) investment from Catholic dioceses.

Germany's Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ) said the money had been put up by 12 share-holding dioceses, as well as the Church's Berlin-based military chaplaincy and Association of German Dioceses.

The daily added that the investment would enable the Augsburg-based company to close a "liquidity gap" in time for the Christmas season and return to profitability after further restructuring by 2015. Employing 6,800, Weltbild enjoyed annual sales of €1.6 billion (£1.3bn) until it was exposed in 2011 for selling pornographic books alongside its religious titles. Its chairman, Carel Halff, later apologised for "mistakes and oversights" by the firm, Germany's third largest book retailer.

In its report, FAZ said Bavaria's Munich-Freising Archdiocese had put up half the latest investment, while two other dioceses, Mainz and Hildesheim, had bought shares for the first time.

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