German publishing group Axel Springer has signed an agreement with KKR in which the U.S. private equity investor will buy out all its outstanding shares at an offer price of €63 ($71 U.S.) per share. The deal values the publishing group at €6.7 billion ($7.6 billion U.S.).
In a statement, Axel Springer said KKR planned to launch a voluntary public tender offer at a price of €63 per share in cash for all its outstanding shares.
The executive and supervisory boards of Axel Springer support the offer. Current shareholders Friede Springer — who indirectly and directly controls 42.6 percent of the shares — and CEO Mathias Döpfner — who owns 2.8 percent of the shares — agreed to retain their shareholdings in the company.
Berlin-based Axel Springer paid £43.6 million ($55 million U.S.) earlier this month to increase its stake in British real estate portal PurpleBricks.com to 26.6 percent (from 12.4 percent). The group revised its annual revenue forecast for 2019 down to the previous year’s level after selling its majority stake in vacation rentals @Leisure.
The company’s classified brands include jobs site StepStone; Aviv Group (which comprises of real estate verticals SeLoger, Immowelt, Immonet, Immoweb, Logic-Immo, and Immotop); generalist Yad2, and auto and boating classifieds La Centrale, Promoneuve, Annonces du bateau, Caradisiac, and Ma Voiture Cash.
StepStone slams Google
In other news, StepStone has slammed Google for redirecting traffic destined for its jobs aggregator. A spokesman told Reuters that the jobs vertical had witnessed a decline in traffic from the search engine since Google for Jobs launched in Germany.
StepStone said last year that it didn’t consider Google for Jobs to be a threat — but that was before it launched in StepStone’s main market. Now, it’s relying on social media and other marketing channels to make up for the loss in traffic. StepStone operates more than 10 brands with a presence in 24 countries.
Analyst Sarah Simon at Berenberg Bank told Reuters that the weak link with Google could weaken the job board’s pricing power with employers, “because it won’t be able to guarantee the same visibility to job-seekers”.
AP reported that Google is currently under scrutiny from European and U.S. regulators who are concerned the search giant may be violating competition standards.
Most recently, the tech behemoth was fined $1.7 billion for “bias in the brokering of search ads”.
We’ve reported extensively on Google’s entry into the job board space — see our coverage in the AIM Group Marketplaces Report (CIR 18.10, May 29, 2017).