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German media publisher Axel Springer buys Politico for $1 billion

August 26, 2021, 2:25 PM UTC
Politico-Axel Springer
Axel Springer wants to expand its U.S. media empire by acquiring Politico.
Bernd von Jutrczenka—picture alliance/Getty Images

German media giant Axel Springer SE has agreed to buy Politico, stepping up its campaign to build a U.S. news empire. 

Springer is paying more than $1 billion for the deal, according to a person familiar with the matter, who asked not to be identified because the details are private. The company is also acquiring the 50% it doesn’t already own in Politico Europe, as well as the tech news website Protocol, it said in a statement Thursday. The deal is set to close in the fourth quarter. 

The companies didn’t disclose terms.

Politico is the latest in a string of deals for U.S. media companies in the past several years. In 2014, Axel Springer set up a joint venture with Politico to launch the European edition of the website. In 2015, it bought Business Insider, and, last year, Axel Springer acquired a majority stake in the newsletter publisher Morning Brew Inc. 

Founded in 2007, Politico was a pioneer in granular scoop-driven coverage of politics and policy in Washington, D.C. While much of its coverage is free, it publishes news and analysis for paying subscribers under the banner Politico Pro. 

The digital media industry has been consolidating as advertisers move their budgets to tech giants such as Facebook Inc. and Google. Last year, BuzzFeed bought HuffPost from Verizon Communications Inc. In 2019, Vice Media acquired Refinery29 and Vox Media bought New York Media, parent of New York Magazine.

Axel Springer, the publisher of Germany’s Bild newspaper, was taken private in 2020 in a deal led by the U.S. private equity firm KKR & Co.

The talks between Axel Springer and Politico were first reported by the Wall Street Journal, which also reported in May that Axel Springer was in talks to buy one of Politico’s rivals, Axios. 

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