Mathias Döpfner, CEO at Axel Springer
(Mathias Döpfner, CEO at Axel Springer)

BILD owner Axel Springer acquires Politico


German media conglomerate Axel Springer has agreed to buy the US-based  political journalism company Politico. The companies did not disclose a price for the deal, but American media reported Politico sold for about $1 billion citing people familiar with the matter.

The deal includes Politico, Politico Europe and Politico’s tech news site, Protocol  launched in 2020. Subject to regulatory approval, the deal is expected to take effect in Q4 2021.

Over its 15-year history, Politico has emerged as one of the world’s most-influential news sources with its rapid-fire blog posts, morning email blasts and in-depth tracking of elections and legislative happenings. With significant revenue derived from high-value business-to-business subscriptions and advertising, the publishing model has produced steady growth and healthy profits, and has a proven strategy for further robust expansion moving forward.

“POLITICO will complement and strengthen Axel Springer’s portfolio with an authoritative voice offering inside perspective and analysis of politics and policy in Washington D.C., across the U.S., and around the globe” the Berlin-headquartered company said on Friday (August  27).

Axel Springer and Politico in the U.S. first joined forces in 2014 when they launched Politico Europe. The Brussels-based publication has since become an indispensable source of information in the EU and has continuously grown both its newsroom and its revenues and has been profitable since 2019.

Building on that connection, the two sides started to talk in earnest about a deal earlier this summer with the Wall Street Journal revealing the talks earlier this month.

Mathias Döpfner, CEO at Axel Springer, commented:

“POLITICO’s outstanding team has disrupted digital political journalism and set new standards. A true North Star. It will be a privilege and a special responsibility to help shape the future of this outstanding media company. Objective quality journalism is more important than ever, and we mutually believe in the necessity of editorial independence and nonpartisan reporting. This is crucial for our future success and accelerated growth.”

Politico’s founder and publisher Robert Allbritton, said he decided to sell because “it became steadily more clear that the responsibility to grow the business on a global scale, to better serve the audience and create more opportunities for our employees, might be better advanced by a larger company with a significant global footprint and ambitions than it could be by me as owner of a family business. As I have often said, I would only welcome a new investor that reflected my values and POLITICO’s distinctive company values. Axel Springer and Mathias Döpfner and his team meet that test better than any other company in media today.”

Politico's founder and publisher Robert Allbritton,
(Politico’s founder and publisher Robert Allbritton)

Allbritton will continue as publisher of Politico and Protocol. The editorial and management leadership teams of Politico in the U.S., Politico Europe and Protocol will remain in place, and will continue to operate their publications separately from Axel Springer’s other brands headquartered in the U.S. like Insider.

Founded in 1946, Axel Springer is active in more than 40 countries with subsidiaries, joint ventures, and licensing. It provides information across its diverse media brands (amongst others BILD, WELT, INSIDER, POLITICO Europe) and classified portals (StepStone Group and AVIV Group). The company, which employs more than 16,000 people worldwide, aims to become global market leader in digital content and digital classifieds through accelerated growth.

Founded in 2007, POLITICO has grown to a team of 700 working across North America, more than half of whom are editorial staff. POLITICO Europe, its seven-year-old European edition has grown to nearly 200 employees. Early this year it acquired E&E News, the renowned news organization focused solely on energy and the environment.

Protocol covers U.S. and China “big tech” in addition to areas such as enterprise technology, fintech and the evolving tech workplace. Protocol’s team includes reporters in San Francisco, New York, Washington, D.C. and London.