Berlin-based media company Axel Springer SE is to create a mergers and acquisitions (M&A) team dedicated to AI.

According to CEO Matthias Döpfner, the M&A team’s objective is “to entirely focus on early-stage acquisitions or later-stage acquisitions of AI companies that can be, for various reasons, important or attractive for Axel Springer.”

In an internal podcast for employees that was obtained by news agency Reuters, Döpfner explained that AI represented a challenge to Axel Springer’s traditional business model. He added that the company was particularly interested in technologies that could impact advertising, e-commerce and journalism.

“Perhaps we make five picks and five times it doesn’t work,” he said regarding potential takeovers, but he added that this strategy could result in an acquisition as successful as job portal Stepstone, which could have an IPO later this year.

As Döpfner explained late last year, “Stepstone’s accelerated growth and good profitability have offset and compensated for other areas that have been less profitable due to advertising declines and the general economy.”

With more than 16,000 employees, Axel Springer SE owns Germany-based media brands Bild and Die Welt and recently acquired the American politics site Politico.

Investment management company KKR is the largest shareholder in Axel Springer, with a 35.6% stake, while the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board, Dr Friede Springer (the widow of company founder Axel Springer) and Döpfner himself are also significant shareholders.

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