On the eve of the second round of legislative elections in France, and two weeks before the end of his tenure, the editor-in-chief for the French division of the Agence France Presse (AFP) news agency announced his defection to a German-brewed rival-in-the-making, reported French newspaper Le Monde.
Due to step down as editor-in-chief for France and take up another position within the agency at the end of the month, Jean-Luc Testault revealed his plans on Friday to leave AFP for a new French competitor being formed by Germany’s DAPD.
Germany’s second-largest news agency, DAPD has been building up a presence in France over the past year, and is allegedly seeking to launch a French generalist, multimedia news agency under the name Sipa News in October, that would compete directly with AFP, according to Le Monde.
Founded upon the German branch of the US news agency Associated Press (AP) and a former East German agency, and owned by businessmen Martin Vorderwülbecke and Peter Löw, DAPD began its French shopping spree with the purchase of Sipa Presse, a French photo agency, in July 2011.
In November 2011, union sources reportedly revealed that DAPD was in the process of negotiating the takeover of the French branch of AP, according to French weekly L’Express; these negotiations are still under way.
“After the purchase of SIPA Presse in July 2011, the takeover of the French services of AP represents a crucial step in the creation of a generalist news agency in France," L’Express quoted Vorderwülbecke as saying last March.
In April, DAPD purchased DioraNews, the mobile phone content provider responsible for managing Orange’s news sites.
Le Monde predicts that DAPD might take on 30 journalists during the summer, who would join the 20-or-so coming from AP France, and the 10-or-so from DioraNews.
Jean-Luc Testault, whom AFP’s President Emmanuel Hoog reportedly dismissed immediately following his announcement on Friday, might be slated to lead the new agency’s editorial team, speculates Le Monde.
Image Credit: DAPD