Deal Expands Axel Springer’s Worldwide Digital Audience to Nearly 200 Million Users and Furthers Commitment to Innovative Digital Journalism / Ranks Axel Springer among the World’s Six Largest Digital Publishers in Terms of Reach / Henry Blodget and Julie Hansen Will Continue to Lead Pioneering Business News Portal and Remain Significantly Invested through an Extensive, Long-term Equity Incentive
Axel Springer SE, the leading digital publisher in Europe, today announced a binding agreement to purchase approximately 88 percent of the shares in New York City-based Business Insider, the leading digital offering for business news in the U.S. This acquisition is a vital part of Axel Springer’s strategy to broaden its global reach, diversify its English-language offerings and expand its commitment to innovative digital journalism.
The addition of Business Insider’s 76 million unique monthly visitors will increase Axel Springer’s worldwide digital audience by two-thirds to approximately 200 million users, making the company one of the world’s six largest digital publishers in terms of reach.
The purchase price based on 100 percent of Business Insider amounts to USD 442 million (currently approximately EUR 395 million) on the basis of a cash and debt free valuation of USD 390 million (currently approximately EUR 348 million). The valuation corresponds to an amount of USD 343 million (currently approximately EUR 306 million) for the 88 percent of the shares that Axel Springer is acquiring. Axel Springer already holds a stake of approximately nine percent in the company and, after this purchase, will hold a stake of approximately 97 percent. Bezos Expeditions, the personal investment company of Jeff Bezos, will hold the further shares.
Henry Blodget, Founder, Chief Executive Officer and Editor-in-Chief, and Julie Hansen, Chief Operating Officer and President, will continue to lead Business Insider in their respective roles. They will also remain significantly invested in Business Insider through an extensive, long-term equity incentive. Kenneth Lerer, Managing Partner at leading early-stage technology venture capital firm Lerer Hippeau Ventures, Co-Founder of Huffington Post and Chairman of Buzzfeed, will receive a seat on the Board of Business Insider.
Mathias Döpfner, CEO of Axel Springer SE: “With the acquisition of Business Insider, we continue with our strategy to expand Axel Springer’s digital reach and, as previously announced, invest in digital journalism companies in English-speaking regions of the world. Business Insider has set new standards in digital business journalism globally. Henry Blodget’s way of digital storytelling reaches tomorrow’s decision-makers. Combining our forces will allow us to unlock growth potential and expand Business Insider’s portfolio to new verticals, new locations and new digital content. We look forward to working together with Henry Blodget, Julie Hansen and the exceptional Business Insider team to continue shaping the future. At the same time, I am thrilled to have our close partner Ken Lerer joining us.”
Henry Blodget, Founder, Chief Executive Officer and Editor-in-Chief of Business Insider: “We have tremendous respect for Axel Springer's commitment to independent journalism and its global vision for the future. It is a pleasure and privilege to join forces with such a smart, forward-thinking team. We look forward to working together to build a major global news organization for the digital century."
With its purely digital business model and focus on millennials, the sought-after target audience of 18 to 34-year-olds, Business Insider is a pioneer among business news portals. It has built a reputation on critical and exclusive reporting that aligns well with how news is consumed on social and mobile channels. Business Insider also offers a paid subscription-based research and information service, known as BI Intelligence.
Business Insider was launched in 2007 by Henry Blodget, Kevin Ryan and Dwight Merriman. It employs more than 325 people, approximately 50 percent of whom are journalists. In addition to its U.S. news sites, the company has a growing international presence, with local editions or licenses in seven other countries. A German edition will be introduced in the fourth quarter of this year and will be operated by finanzen.net, a company of Axel Springer SE. Editions for other countries are in development.
Axel Springer will finance this acquisition using existing credit lines.
The transaction is subject to approval by relevant antitrust authorities.
Axel Springer is the leading digital publisher in Europe and a pioneer in paid subscription offerings. With headquarters in Berlin, the company is active in more than 40 countries with subsidiaries, joint ventures and licenses. Axel Springer SE is divided into three operating segments: Paid Models, Marketing Models and Classified Ad Models. In 2014, it achieved an EBITDA of EUR 507.1 million. More than half of Group revenues were generated by digital activities, which amounted to more than 70 percent of Group EBITDA. The company employs nearly 15,000 people worldwide.
Axel Springer increasingly wants to grow with digital journalistic offerings in English-language geographies. Over the last several years, the company has gradually built up a diverse portfolio of U.S. investments and has maintained an office in Silicon Valley since 2014.
Since March 2014, Axel Springer has been the biggest investor in OZY.com, an online magazine for news and culture. Since February 2015, the digital publisher Livingly Media has been fully owned by aufeminin.com, the world's leading women's portal, in which Axel Springer holds a majority interest. Axel Springer is also invested in digital investment funds Lerer Hippeau Ventures and SV Angel since June 2014. Axel Springer also has a majority holding in the shopping platform Retale, which has been active in the U.S. market since 2013 through the Bonial.com Group. Moreover, Axel Springer holds stakes in the news platform Mic.com (since June 2015), the virtual-reality startup Jaunt (since September 2015), the social-video-news media company NowThis Media (since December 2014) and the media start-up A Plus (since March 2015). Axel Springer also holds minority interests in the community accommodations marketplace Airbnb (since February 2012), in the photo community Pixlee (since February 2013) and the save-for-later App Pocket (since April 2015). Since April 2015, the company, together with POLITICO U.S., has been responsible for the European edition of POLITICO in Brussels.