Axel Springer chief joins billionaire club with $1.2bn share windfall
THE boss of German media giant Axel Springer has become an instant billionaire through a $1.2bn (£940m) share windfall.
Chief executive Mathias Doepfner has been handed 15pc of the company by Friede Springer, the heiress and controlling shareholder of the newspaper and advertising business. Mr Doepfner has also bought a further 4.1pc of her shares, meaning the pair will each hold 22pc of the company.
Ms Springer said the move confirms Doepfner as her successor to the business, which publishes Germany’s mostread newspaper Bild and national broadsheet Die Welt.
Founded in Hamburg shortly after the Second World War, Axel Springer has expanded from a newspaper business into a European digital media company.
It owns titles such as financial news website Business Insider and the German edition of Rolling Stone magazine.
American private equity giant KKR became the biggest shareholder in Axel Springer last year when it paid $3.2bn for a 43.5pc stake.
As well as owning a greater slice of the group, Mr Doepfner will also be responsible for Ms Springer’s voting rights.
Mr Doepfner joined Die Welt in 1998 before becoming chairman of Axel Springer’s management board in 2002.
He acquired the shares from Ms Springer at €62.42 (£57.15) per share, the same price as KKR’s take-private offer. Ms Springer said she had found “the ideal solution” to safeguard the future of Axel Springer and her foundation.
“I am very happy and grateful to have found my successor in Mathias,” she added.
“Together with our new partner KKR, we will ensure that Axel Springer remains active and relevant as an independent media business and home of journalism”.