Who Owns Politico? Axel Springer Acquisition, Explained

Politico has officially been bought out by Axel Springer. What's the deal with this German publisher, and will it change Politico's staunchly independent reporting?

Rachel Curry - Author

Aug. 26 2021, Published 1:40 p.m. ET

Politico has been providing news on all things politics and policy since 2007, and it has done so independently. The independent news source pride has given Politico a lot of merit over the years. Now, Politico has leaned into a new parent company, German publisher Axel Springer SE.

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What's the deal with Axel Springer's billion-dollar buyout of Politico, and will it change how the digital publication divulges the news?

Axel Springer buys out Politico for more than $1 billion

German media mogul Axel Springer has signed a definitive agreement to acquire Politico for more than $1 billion. The deal includes the acquisition of Protocol, which is Politico's tech news arm.

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Alex Springer and Politico have already been involved in a partnership, but the new acquisition takes things full circle. The conversation for a full-fledged acquisition started this summer, and the agreement has moved forward.

Politico reports employing 500 journalists across its operations (including Protocol). Robert Allbritton, the owner and founder of Capitol News Company (the existing parent company of Politico prior to Axel Springer deal finalizations), told reporters, "It became steadily more clear that the responsibility to grow the business on a global scale, to better serve the audience and create more opportunities for our employees, might be better advanced by a larger company with a significant global footprint and ambitions than it could be by me as owner of a family business."

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Allbritton will retain his role as publisher of both publications. Reportedly, Politico's editorial and leadership departments are staying put amid the shift, which is more than can be said for HuffPost following its BuzzFeed buyout (layoffs, anyone?).

What is German publisher Axel Springer all about?

Axel Springer currently owns a whole slew of brands under the classifieds, news, and marketing media verticals. Regarding news media, Axel Springer owns Insider, TechBook, and Rolling Stone—just to name a few. Other news brands include a variety of German names like kaufDA, MeinProspekt, and Auto Test.

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The conglomerate is adding Politico to this list, but leaders at the publication ensure that the buyout won't impact the quality of journalism that Politico produces. While both parties have agreed on the deal, it likely won't come to full fruition until 2022.

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Axel Springer stock responds to the Politico acquisition

An over-the-counter stock, Axel Springer trades under the ticker "AXELF" and maintains a market cap of $8.66 billion. Currently, the shares are trading at $79.57 a piece—up nearly 10 percent from the previous close price of $72.35 per share.

The Politico acquisition was announced early on Aug. 26, and Axel Springer stock responded accordingly with an upswing. That momentum will likely wane as investors settle into their positions. Buyers are likely biting due to Politico's global familiarity (it isn't a household name, but it's well known nonetheless) as well as the brand's future role in increasing Axel Springer's bottom line.


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