German publisher Axel Springer to acquire U.S. news website Politico

Aug 26 (Reuters) – Axel Springer said on Thursday it will acquire U.S political news website Politico, as the German publisher stitches together a global network of digital news operations.

The companies did not disclose the terms of the deal, but the New York Times reported last week that Politico could be sold for $1 billion in a potential deal with Axel Springer.

Springer CEO Mathias Doepfner told German news outlet Handelsblatt that Politico is its biggest investment ever, without mentioning the price. Politico was not immediately available for comment.

The deal, in which Springer will also buy the remaining 50% share of its joint venture Politico Europe, follows its 2015 deal to buy Business Insider and a 2020 deal to buy a majority stake in business newsletter platform Morning Brew.

Robert Allbritton, the owner of Politico, will continue as the publisher of the website following the deal, which is expected to close by end of this year.

Politico was founded ahead of the 2008 U.S. presidential elections by defectors from the Washington Post with an aim to cover Washington and politics with the pace, analysis and rigor of sports journalism.

Springer owns a rich portfolio of news outlets including Bild, Welt and Insider, and is active in more than 40 countries.

U.S. private equity investor KKR, which owns around 48% of Springer, has been building up its portfolio of digital and media assets though the German media conglomerate.

Separately, two people familiar with the matter told CNBC that Springer was no longer in talks to buy digital-news outlet Axios, which was founded by Politico co-founder Jim VandeHei.

Springer and Axios declined to comment.

Reporting by Subrat Patnaik and Tiyashi Datta in Bengaluru and Kenneth Li in New York and Klaus Lauer in Berlin; Editing by Shailesh Kuber and Saumyadeb Chakrabarty

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