SDA shareholders approve merger with Keystone

The shareholders of the Swiss Dispatch Agency (SDA) and Keystone approved the merger of the two companies by a large majority at their general meetings in Bern on Friday. The merger will therefore take effect retroactively from 1 January 2018.


The merger of SDA and Keystone takes place through an exchange of shares. The Austrian news agency Austria Presse Agentur (APA) is contributing its current 50 percent stake in Keystone to the new company. In return, APA receives a 30 percent share in Keystone-SDA.

Present in all regions

Like its two predecessors, the new Keystone-SDA company remains committed to trilingualism. It recognises the public service character of the basic service. Keystone-SDA will continue to be present in all regions of the country. It remains strongly anchored in the regions and continues to focus on the quality of its journalistic services.

APA becomes strategic technology partner of Keystone-SDA. In the future, the focus will be even more strongly on customer needs, which have changed in the course of digitalization. The aim is to open up new business areas. Thus, in addition to the news, image and video service for media customers, authorities, organizations and companies will also be addressed.

Eckstein becomes Chairman of the Board of Directors

The Board of Directors of Keystone-SDA will be chaired by Ueli Eckstein. He succeeds Hans Heinrich Coninx, who was Chairman of the Board of Directors for 15 years. After seven years, Hanspeter Lebrument, publisher of the Südostschweiz and former President of the Swiss Media Association. Lebrument was Vice President.

Clemens Pig, Chief Executive Officer of APA, and Matthias Hagemann, Chairman of the Board of Directors of Radio Basilisk, are new Vice Chairmen of the Keystone SDA Board of Directors. New members of the 10-member board are Karin Thiller, Managing Director of APA, Silvio Lebrument, Managing Director of Media Somedia, and Christine Gabella, Secretary General of Medias Suisse. The existing members were confirmed in office.

Red numbers

The SDA Group closed the 2017 financial year, the last year before the merger, with a loss of CHF 3.1 million after a profit of CHF 2.0 million in the previous year. Earnings fell by 2.7 per cent to CHF 32.8 million. Retained earnings amounted to 18.2 million francs. Before the merger, SDA distributed CHF 12.4 million to existing shareholders.

The shareholders' meeting did not accept a proposal by the Imprint trade union to donate half of the dividends to SDA for the improvement of the social plan.

In spring 2018, the announced restructuring of the SDA, which will lead to the elimination of 36 of the 150 jobs in the editorial department, caused a fierce reaction. The four-day strike that followed is unique in the SDA's 120-year history. Talks between the board of directors and the editorial commission failed to produce any results. Arbitration before the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (Seco) is underway. (SDA)

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