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Germany’s Axel Springer Buys Business Insider in $343 Million Deal

Axel Springer, one of Europe’s largest digital publishing and media conglomerates, announced a deal to acquire U.S.-based news and events company Business Insider for about $343 million.

The addition of Business Insider’s 76 million unique monthly visitors will increase Axel Springer’s worldwide digital audience by two-thirds, the company said, to approximately 200 million users.

The move comes after Axel Springer failed in its effort to acquire U.K.-based Financial Times — snapped up by Japan’s Nikkei Inc. in July — and merger talks with ProSiebenSat.1 ended without a deal.

The deal values Business Insider at $442 million. Axel Springer already holds a 9% stake in BI; following the deal announced Tuesday, it will hold a stake of approximately 97%. Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos’ Bezos Expeditions investment firm will hold the remaining shares. The BI deal is subject to approval by antitrust regulators.

“With the acquisition of Business Insider, we continue with our strategy to expand Axel Springer’s digital reach and, as previously announced, invest in digital journalism companies in English-speaking regions of the world,” Axel Springer CEO Mathias Döpfner said in announcing the deal.

BI founder and CEO Henry Blodget and president and COO Julie Hansen will continue to run the company under Axel Springer’s ownership and will receive “extensive” long-term equity incentives, the company said. Kenneth Lerer, managing partner at VC firm Lerer Hippeau Ventures who also is co-founder of Huffington Post and chairman of Buzzfeed, will receive a seat on BI’s board.

New York-based Business Insider, launched in 2007, has 325 people employees (about half of whom are journalists). Axel Springer said it plans to launch a German edition of BI in the fourth quarter of 2015 that will be operated by its finanzen.net subsidiary.

In recent years the Berlin-based company has been steadily boosting its U.S. presence. Axel Springer owns a majority holding in shopping platform Retale, which has been active in the U.S. market since 2013 through the Bonial.com Group, and holds stakes in news platform Mic.com, virtual-reality startup Jaunt, social-video news startup NowThis Media and startup A Plus. It also has a joint venture with Politico U.S. to produce the European edition of Politico in Brussels.

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