Axel Springer has acquired 88 percent of Business Insider at a cost of $343 million. This means the German media conglomerate, which previously owned 9 percent of the publication co-founded by Henry Blodget, Kevin Ryan, and Dwight Merriman in 2007, now owns 97 percent of the primarily business-and tech-focused news site.
According to Axel Springer’s announcement, the rest of the company (all 3 percent) will be owned by Amazon chief executive Jeff Bezos’ personal investment vehicle, Bezos Expeditions. Business Insider’s leaders — chief executive Henry Blodget and chief operating officer and president Julie Hansen — will remain in their positions.
The price paid for Business Insider is less than the $560 million reported by Recode last week, but it’s still the most expensive acquisition of a Web-based publication since AOL spent $315 million on the Huffington Post in 2011. So what will Axel Springer get for the hundreds of millions it will spend on the growing news site?
Here’s what the German media company had to say about that in its announcement:
This acquisition is a vital part of Axel Springer’s strategy to broaden its global reach, diversify its English-language offerings and expand its commitment to innovative digital journalism.
The addition of Business Insider’s 76 million unique monthly visitors will increase Axel Springer’s worldwide digital audience by two-thirds to approximately 200 million users, making the company one of the world’s six largest digital publishers in terms of reach.
Recode says Axel Springer might also have been motivated by its failure to acquire the Financial Times earlier this year. The company’s also said to have wanted a Web asset, and Business Insider was “more affordable than publishers like BuzzFeed and Vox Media” despite the record-setting price it fetched as a Web-only news outlet.
Both of those companies have had their suitors, though. Reports surfaced last year that Disney had engaged in acquisition talks with BuzzFeed, and rumors about Vox Media selling to Comcast (one of its investors) have popped up throughout the year. Perhaps Business Insider’s sale will prompt some of these other talks to resume.