Freshfields is advising German publishing giant Axel Springer SE as the digital media company expands its European and American reach through the acquisition of influential U.S. political news service POLITICO and its European service.
Axel Springer will gain the brands through the acquisition of Allbritton, LLC, with the transaction expected to close by the end of 2021, according to a company statement.
Headquartered in Berlin, Axel Springer is the largest digital publishing house in Europe, active in over 40 countries with key news brands such as Bild, Die Welt, and Insider.
The digital publisher had already been a joint venture partner with POLITICO since 2014, when launching POLITICO Europe together, but it will now take over the remaining 50% share. Tech news site Protocol will also be acquired as part of the deal.
A Freshfields team is being led by U.S. corporate M&A partner John Fisher and an international team of regulatory, tax, and data specialists and partners, the firm said in a statement.
POLITICO was advised by Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman led by partner Matt Swartz, with BDT & Company as financial adviser, with Rob Verigan as lead partner.
A price was not disclosed by either party, though media reports placed the value at around $1 billion, according to a person familiar with the matter.
According to Axel Springer’s press statement, POLITICO’s founder Robert L. Allbritton said the sale was “to grow the business on a global scale,” something which “might be better advanced by a larger company with a significant global footprint and ambitions.”
Freshfields previously advised Axel Springer when the company delisted itself from the German stock exchange in early 2020.