Berlin (AP) - The US financial investor KKR has taken a major hurdle for entry into the media group Axel Springer. The Americans have acquired the necessary number of shares for their takeover bid, according to a statement by Axel Springer.
More than 20 percent of the Springer shareholders would have accepted the offer until the end of the acceptance period on 2 August, the media group said on Monday in Berlin.
The exact result will be announced in the coming days. KKR had made the entry conditional on being able to buy at least 20 percent of all shares. The entry must still be approved by competition and media authorities.
On the way to the planned strategic partnership between Axel Springer and KKR an "important stage goal" was reached, it said. "We will thus be able to seize additional opportunities and accelerate our growth and investment strategy," said Springer CEO Mathias Döpfner. In the night of Saturday the takeover deadline had expired.
As soon as the official result is announced - KKR announced for Wednesday -, a period begins within which more shareholders have the opportunity to accept the offer. The investor continues to offer them 63 euros per Springer share.
After these two weeks, then the regulatory authorities are in demand. According to one spokeswoman, Springer expects the transaction to be completed by the end of the year.
On the employee side, there is still uncertainty about what the financial investor intends to do with the publisher in order to achieve its return targets. In the past week, the "Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung" reported fears of the works council against a breakup of the group. "If there are more fears than hopes, the question arises of the benefits of cooperation," said the German Journalists Association in a press release. "Completely overdrawn yield demands would go to the substance of Springer."
Springer again emphasized in June that no decision of the future shareholders could be made without the consent of Friede Springer. This is the agreement with the investor. This ensures continuity in corporate management. KKR will also have no influence on journalistic content. With KKR, Axel Springer has a strong, long-term-oriented partner. On average, KKR holds the shares for eight years, said CFO Julian Deutz at that time.
Almost 45 percent of the Springer shares are in free float. The widow of the founder of the publishing house, Friede Springer, and CEO Döpfner have agreed with KKR that they retain their holdings. The widow controls 42.6 percent of the shares, Döpfner holds 2.8 percent. The Springer grandchildren Ariane and Axel Sven Springer hold together around 10 percent.