Axel Springer to buy Business Insider in S$490 million deal

The logo of the German publisher Axel Springer is seen outside its headquarters in Berlin, Germany, which has agreed to take over Business Insider Inc. in a US$343 million (S$489.47 million) deal.
The logo of the German publisher Axel Springer is seen outside its headquarters in Berlin, Germany, which has agreed to take over Business Insider Inc. in a US$343 million (S$489.47 million) deal.PHOTO: REUTERS

LONDON (BLOOMBERG) - German media company Axel Springer SE agreed to take over Business Insider Inc. in a US$343 million (S$489.47 million) deal, accelerating its push into English-language news after losing out a bidding contest for the Financial Times two months ago.

Axel Springer said Tuesday it is purchasing 88 per cent of the news site, boosting its stake to about 97 per cent. Amazon.com Inc. founder Jeff Bezos will own the remaining 3 per cent of the New York-based site, which has 76 million monthly unique visitors.

Business Insider, founded by former Wall Street analyst Henry Blodget, vaults Berlin-based Axel Springer into a major provider of English-language business news while also sharpening its focus on digital operations. In July, the publisher lost out in a bid for the Financial Times to Nikkei Inc., which is paying US$1.3 billion to acquire the British newspaper from Pearson Plc.

"The transaction is an essential component of Axel Springer's strategy to grow with digital journalistic offerings in English-language geographies," Springer, Europe's biggest newspaper publisher, said in a statement.

Business Insider, co-founded in 2007 by current Chief Executive Officer Mr Blodget as a Web-only business publication, now has seven additional editions outside the U.S., including in the U.K, Australia and Singapore. In July, it introduced a new tech-focused standalone website called Tech Insider.

Mr Blodget, also the site's editor-in-chief, and Chief Operating Officer Julie Hansen will stay in their roles. Business Insider employs more than 325 people, about half of them journalists.

Under CEO Mathias Doepfner, Axel Springer has been increasingly investing in online operations. It formed a partnership that launched the European version of Politico.com, a Washington-based political website, and last year it invested in Silicon Valley-based Web magazine Ozy. In 2014, it also acquired a 20 per cent stake in French search engine Qwant and in 2013 it launched the paid-for online version of Bild, Germany's largest newspaper.

In January, Axel Springer led a group of investors that paid US$25 million for a stake in Business Insider. Bezos, who owns the Washington Post, led a group of investors who bought a US$5 million stake in Business Insider 2013.

The Business Insider acquisition is subject to approval by antitrust authorities.