Thu, Jun 13, 2019 - Page 10 News List

KKR to claim major stake in Axel Springer media

AFP, BERLIN

German media group Axel Springer SE yesterday said it has signed a deal for investment firm Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co (KKR) to become its largest shareholder, with the US group making a public offer to buy up Springer’s shares.

Shares of the Berlin-based publisher of major newspapers Bild and Die Welt had surged last week after the two companies revealed that the talks were under way.

Under the terms, KKR would offer all Springer investors 63 euros (US$71) per share, 31.5 percent higher than the average price over the past three months.

The US company has also struck a deal with Axel Springer’s two biggest shareholders.

Friede Springer, widow of the group’s founder, and chief executive Mathias Doepfner would not give up their respective stakes of 42.6 and 2.8 percent.

That means “no decisions on the shareholder level can be taken without the consent of Friede Springer,” the group said.

This would provide “continuity in the governance and management of the company,” the group said.

Elsewhere in its statement, Axel Springer cut its business forecast for this year, pointing to revenue growth slower than hoped in an environment of sluggish economic expansion and in the teeth of a new French tax on digital firms.

The publisher now expects revenues to decline slightly compared with last year, rather than holding steady as previously forecast, with a similar picture for adjusted operating profit.

Last year had seen Springer boost revenues 4.1 percent to 3.2 billion euros, while operating profit rose 4.7 percent to 528 million euros.

About 70 percent of the group’s turnover now comes from its digital activities, especially classified advertising with brands like StepStone for jobs and Logic-Immo for property.

Springer also stands behind high-profile online news brands like Politico and Business Insider.

Tabloid-style Bild and broadsheet Die Welt remain landmarks in German print media, despite falling sales.

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