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KKR strikes deal for German publisher Axel Springer

Last week Axios Pro Rata discussed how KKR was in talks to buy out the minority shareholders in German publisher Axel Springer, via a public tender.

By the numbers: The deal was publicly announced Wednesday morning, valuing Axel Springer at around $7.7 billion, or €63 per share. That's a 12.5% premium to yesterday's close, and a 40% premium to where shares traded before the first reports of a deal.

Word is that KKR hasn't yet decided whether to take Axel Springer private, or continue to operate it as a public company as it's occasionally done before (e.g., ProSiebenSat).

I'm also hearing that there is no serious discussion of breaking up the company, even though most of the earnings come via digital classifieds rather than through the print or digital journalism for which Axel Springer is best known. That's partially due to the wishes of Friede Springer, widow of founder Axel, who's partnering with KKR on the deal.

  • But that digital classifieds piece is key for KKR, and helps explain why it's betting big on a "news media" sector that most other buyout firms have studiously avoided.