Axel Springer starts preparing online unit IPO - sources

FRANKFURT Fri Feb 7, 2014 9:26am EST

FRANKFURT Feb 7 (Reuters) - German publisher Axel Springer has started preparations to float its online classified ads unit as it steps up efforts to shift from print to digital media, two people familiar with the situation said.

The company is in informal talks with financial advisors on a potential IPO of its Digital Classifieds unit, which owns websites such as SeLoger and StepStone, but has not yet asked investment banks to pitch for a role in the flotation, the sources added.

An initial public offering, or IPO, could come as soon as the second half of the year but could also be postponed until 2015, the sources said.

Springer and the unit's co-owner General Atlantic declined to comment.