Axel Springer, backed by KKR, acquires Politico

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Axel Springer SE update

Axel Springer, a German publishing group backed by private equity firm KKR, has agreed to acquire Politico as it continues to expand into the US media.

For the Berlin-based company, the acquisition of this political news website is the latest in a series of digital media acquisitions in the United States in recent years as it seeks to become a global publisher.

since Failed to get “Financial Times” Six years ago, the publisher of the German Le Monde acquired the online news site Business Insider for $343 million in 2015 and held a majority stake in the newsletter publisher Morning Brew.

Axel Springer has established a 50/50 joint venture with Politico to develop the European version of its website. Thursday’s transaction includes the remaining 50% of Politico Europe and Protocol, a technology news website also created and controlled by publisher Robert Allbritton.

The acquisition of Politico has been in the making for several years, although Mathias Döpfner, CEO of Axel Springer, has recently considered other acquisitions. These include Axios, a digital news company founded by a former Politico journalist.

After KKR became its largest shareholder, Axel Springer decided to delist in early 2020, which allowed the media group to accelerate its investment in digital media and its classified businesses without being subject to scrutiny by public investors.

The company also operates one of the world’s largest digital classified business portfolios, including employment portal StepStone and real estate websites such as Immonet.

Politico was founded in 2007, at the helm of two former Washington Post reporters, and funded by Allbritton. The Virginia-based company has competed with major competitors over the past decade and upended the political media in Washington.

In 2014, Politico and Axel Springer launched the publication Politico Europe in Brussels.

In a statement announcing the transaction, Albritton stated that “a large company with an important global footprint will better promote growth” and called his 15 years in Politico a “journey of a lifetime”.

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