UPDATE 1-Turkey's Dogan denies newspapers' sale report

Tue Nov 10, 2009 8:02am GMT

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* Media report says 5 papers being sold to Axel Springer

* Dogan Yayin denies report

(Adds background, company statement)

ISTANBUL, Nov 10 (Reuters) - Turkey's media group Dogan Yayin DYHOL.IS, which is in a dispute over a record tax fine, on Tuesday denied a media report that five of its papers were being sold to Germany's Axel Springer (SPRGn.DE).

The Aksam daily said on Tuesday that Turkish media mogul Aydin Dogan was selling the newspapers, but did not specify a source for the story.

"There is no such transaction between Axel Springer and Dogan Yayin Holding regarding Dogan Gazetecilik assets," a source at Dogan Yayin told Reuters. The company later issued a formal statement denying the report.

Dogan Yayin said in late October it was seeking new partners or the sale of stakes in subsidiaries in the face of a record 4.8 billion lira ($3.3 billion) tax fine.

In a subsequent official statement to the Istanbul Stock Exchange, Dogan Yayin also denied the report of the newspapers' sale.

The sale of the five papers - Milliyet, Vatan, Posta, Radikal and Fanatik - would leave the group with only the Hurriyet newspaper, alongside its television and other media interests.

Dogan says the government has singled out the company for its critical coverage and the European Union, which Turkey wants to join, has criticised the penalty. The government says it is purely a tax matter and not politically motivated.

Dogan Yayin, which controls half of Turkey's private media, is due to meet Finance Ministry officials on Nov. 24 to discuss the fine which has raised concerns about freedom of the press in Turkey. ($1=1.47 lira) (Writing by Daren Butler; Editing by Greg Mahlich)