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German newspaperman Alfred Neven DuMont dies

Alfred Neven DuMont, honourary chairman of M DuMont Schauberg Group, has died, aged 88

As an eleventh-gen family member and long-time head of the M DuMont Schauberg Group, Alfred Neven DuMont was one of the Germany's most important post-war newspaper publishers.

Indeed the German chancellor, Angela Merkel, was among those to offer words of praise at his 80th birthday party, in 2007. Her attendance was unsurprising given that Neven DuMont was chairman of a company that produced newspapers read by millions of Germans each day.

For all of Neven DuMont's undoubted significance in his home country, though, perhaps the most notable event during his six-decade career was his Cologne-based family firm's purchase of a stake in a foreign publisher – made under his watch.

In 2006, M DuMont Schauberg Group made its first overseas investment when it bought 25% of the Israeli publisher Haaretz Group, owner of the country's oldest daily newspaper.

The deal was talked about not just because it represented German money being put into an iconic Israeli family firm; it also raised eyebrows, and sparked some controversy, because Neven DuMont's own father, Kurt, had been a member of the Nazi party.

Neven DuMont, who died in May, aged 88, joined the family-controlled company in 1953 after university studies in Munich and the US. A trained journalist, in 1960 he became the publisher of the Stadt-Anzeiger newspaper in Cologne, while four years later he launched a tabloid, Express.
Later the company's chief executive, he took up the reins as chairman in 1990, a position he relinquished only in January this year.

During the mid-2000s, amid unflattering coverage by some German media of the company's activities during the war, Neven DuMont argued that his father had had little choice but to become a party member.

Neven DuMont himself was just a teenager when the war ended, and he went on to develop strong links to Israel before the Haaretz purchase, regularly visiting the country and donating to Tel Aviv University. Haaretz publisher Amos Schocken described him as a “liberal intellectual, learned in many fields. DuMont’s interest in the newspaper reportedly stemmed from a desire to repairs relations between Germany and Isreal.

Today, the company, which can trace its history back 200 years, says its German newspapers, which include dailies such as the Hamburger Morgenpost, Berliner Kurier and Berliner Zeitung, are read by more than 3 million people a day. The group has radio and television interests and owns the book publisher DuMont, while Neven DuMont himself published several novels and was an avid art collector.

On stepping down in January, he became honorary chairman and his deputy, another family member, Christian DuMont Schütte, took over. Neven DuMont's daughter, Isabella, was the new deputy chairman. Neven DuMont also had two sons, the younger of whom, Konstantin, looked a likely heir until a falling out several years ago caused him to leave the company.
 

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