German publisher Axel Springer agrees to buy US political website Politico

Deal is expected to close by end of this year

Axel Springer has agreed to buy the Arlington-headquartered political news website Politico, the German media conglomerate announced on Thursday.

As part of the deal, Axel Springer will also acquire the remaining 50 per cent share of its current joint venture with Politico Europe and the tech news website Protocol.

The financial details of the deal, which is expected to close by the end of this year, were not disclosed, however, CNBC reported that Politico was sold for about $1 billion.

“Politico’s outstanding team has disrupted digital political journalism and set new standards … [It will be] a special responsibility to help shape the future of this outstanding media company,” said Mathias Dopfner, chief executive of Axel Springer.

Berlin-based Axel Springer, which employs more than 16,000 people in over 40 countries, is behind major news outlets including Bild, Insider, Morning Brew, Politico Europe and Die Welt. The new acquisition will further grow the company’s portfolio in the US market.

“We mutually believe in the necessity of editorial independence and non-partisan reporting. This is crucial for our future success and accelerated growth,” said Mr Dopfner.

In September 2014, Politico partnered with Axel Springer to launch its European edition, a 50-50 joint venture between the two companies. Politico Europe is headquartered in Brussels, with offices in London, Berlin, Warsaw, Paris and Frankfurt.

Founded in 2007, Politico has grown to a team of 700 working across North America, more than half of whom are editorial staff, and it specialises in politics and policy. Its European edition, profitable since 2019, has grown to about 200 employees.

“I would only welcome a new investor that reflected my values and Politico’s distinctive company values,” Robert Allbritton, founder and publisher of Politico and Protocol, said.

“Axel Springer and Mathias Dopfner and his team meet that test better than any other company in media today. I look forward to working with them as publisher of Politico and Protocol as we reach even greater heights,” he added.

Mr Allbritton launched Protocol in January last year and will continue on as publisher of Politico and Protocol.

The editorial and management leadership teams of Politico in the US, Politico Europe and Protocol will remain in place and continue to operate their publications separately from Axel Springer’s other brands.

Updated: August 27th 2021, 6:04 AM