German publishing group Axel Springer announced a deal to acquire Politico, the 15-year-old digital political news outlet.
The price of the acquisition wasn’t disclosed. Politico’s owner, Robert Albritton, had been seeking $1 billion for the company, the New York Times reported earlier this month.
Axel Springer’s deal for Politico includes the remaining 50% share of the companies’ current joint venture Politico Europe, as well as the more recently launched tech news website Protocol. The deal is expected to close in the fourth quarter of 2021, subject to regulatory approval.
The sale of Politico comes less than a week after broadcast TV group Nexstar Media bought The Hill, a Politico competitor, for $130 million.
Under Axel Springer’s ownership, Allbritton will continue as publisher of Politico and Protocol. The editorial and management leadership teams of Politico in the U.S., Politico Europe and Protocol will remain in place and will continue to operate their publications separately from Axel Springer’s other U.S.-based brands, the German company said.
The deal augments Axel Springer’s U.S. footprint, which includes Business Insider (which it bought in 2015 for about $500 million) and Morning Brew, a business-focused digital publication.
Axel Springer and Politico have been joint venture partners since 2014, when they launched Politico Europe. According to Axel Springer, Politico Europe has been profitable since 2019.
“Politico’s outstanding team has disrupted digital political journalism and set new standards. A true North Star,” Axel Springer CEO Mathias Döpfner said in announcing the pact. “It will be a privilege and a special responsibility to help shape the future of this outstanding media company.”
Allbritton boasted that he and the team as Politico “have built what is without a doubt the most impressive and most enduring of the many experiments in new publications over the past generation.”
Allbritton cofounded Politico in 2006 with Jim VandeHei, who left in 2016 and went on to start rival digital publishing firm Axios. In 2014, Allbritton sold his family’s TV station group to Sinclair Broadcast Group for $985 million.
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