It was a deal that made the media industry sit up and take notice: In August, the Axel Springer publishing house announced the takeover of Politico, a publication based near Washington, which has become a power player in political reporting in the USA since it started in 2007.
Business correspondent in New York.
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The Germans agreed to pay around a billion dollars, about five times the Politico turnover.
Politico publisher Robert Allbritton found some remarkable words about his buyer at the time, which now appear in a slightly different light after Julian Reichelt has been kicked out as Bild editor-in-chief: “I would only welcome a new investor who shares my values and the unmistakable ones Politico values reflect, ”he said.
Springer and his CEO Mathias Döpfner passed this test better than any other media company.
The Politico publisher also said at the time that he considered his new German partner to be “more American than most Americans today”.
He related this to the fact that Springer cultivated freedom of the press and freedom of thought and was clearly committed to the transatlantic alliance.
Politico is the culmination of Springer's expansion in America
In any case, it is true that Springer has become a lot more American.
Politico is the latest of several acquisitions in the USA. In 2015, the Germans paid $ 442 million for the Business Insider online portal, and last year they bought the Morning Brew business newsletter.
Since the New York financial investor KKR acquired a stake of around 45 percent in 2019, they also have a major American shareholder.
It fits into this picture that Reichelt had to vacate his post the day after an explosive report in the New York Times.
On Tuesday, the news of Reichelt's departure from the newspaper was even worth a place on its front page.
The acquisition of Politico is the highlight of Springer's US expansion so far. Döpfner has set the goal of becoming the "leading digital publisher in the democratic world", and Politico is apparently supposed to play an important role in this. A few days ago he told the Wall Street Journal that the signs in the US were pointing to growth. In addition to the current 900 employees in the publishing house and the Politico editorial team, he wants to hire another 100 employees. He plans to increase the publication's footprint in both the US and Europe and to broaden the range of topics covered by Politico. In addition, the content that was previously available free of charge should be placed behind a payment barrier. In the course of the transaction, the Germans also want to completely take over the European branch of Politico, which was launched in 2015,in which they already held half of the shares.
The previous Politico owner Robert Allbritton is the son of a media mogul who once owned various television stations and a newspaper in Washington. Politico was his attempt to make a name for himself with his own project. To this end, he hired former star reporters from the Washington Post to be the editor-in-chief. Originally started as The Politico, the publication quickly gained a large number of readers, for example with its daily newsletter Playbook, which regularly delivered exclusive news and gossip from the Washington political scene.
Politico is still available in a free printed version, but it is primarily a digital publication. It was long a losing business, but as the New York Times writes, it is now highly profitable and has a profit margin of more than 20 percent. The Politico Pro subscription service, which was launched in 2011, is responsible for this. It offers analyzes and data for a very specialized public in politics for a hefty fee and today accounts for around half of sales.
According to the New York Times, a sale of Politico to Springer was up for discussion in 2015, at that time for $ 250 million.
The bursting of this deal is said to have contributed to a falling out between Allbritton and some of its top executives, who eventually left Politico and founded the rival publication Axios, which quickly turned them into a serious competitor.
Allegedly, Döpfner also conducted negotiations with Axios parallel to Politico this year.
The aim was to buy and combine both publications.
The Axios CEO let the business fail.Keywords: politico, axel springer, mathias döpfner, robert allbritton, deal, julian reichelt, washington, expansion, affair, side, dust, american.politico, publication, acquisition, american