Axel Springer plans delisting from Frankfurt stock exchange

(Reuters) - German media company Axel Springer SE SPRGn.DE publisher of Germany's Bild newspaper, said on Thursday it planned to delist from the Frankfurt Stock Exchange as part of a 63 euros per share takeover by U.S. private equity investor KKR.

FILE PHOTO: CEO of German publisher Axel Springer SE Mathias Doepfner gives a speech during the company's annual news conference in Berlin, Germany, March 8, 2018. REUTERS/Hannibal Hanschke/File Photo

Springer has said that once private, it hopes to gain greater freedom to build its digital portfolio and look for acquisitions away from the eye of skeptical equity markets.

“Axel Springer SE plans to withdraw from the stock exchange (delisting). A respective application will be made at the Frankfurt Stock Exchange,” Axel Springer said in a regulatory filing late on Thursday.

It marks the final step in KKR’s 63 euros in cash per share public tender offer which closed in December 2019, and puts an equity value of 6.8 billion euros ($7.7 billion) on Springer.

Through a public tender offer as well as additional purchases, KKR has acquired approximately 44.9% of Axel Springer’s share capital.

The KKR takeover and delisting entrenches the influence of the main shareholders Friede Springer and Mathias Doepfner, who hold approximately 45.4% of Axel Springer’s capital.

Neither Doepfner nor Friede Springer will tender their shares into the delisting offer, Axel Springer said in the Thursday filing.

Subject to successful closing, KKR, Friede Springer and Doepfner would jointly control the company while management would remain in place.

KKR has pledged to stay invested for at least five years.

This would buy time for Springer, which also publishes financial news website Business Insider, to build its digital classifieds portfolio, which earns more than four-fifths of its core profit.

KKR, together with Permira, bought control of ProSiebenSat.1 PSMGn.DE in 2007 and sold out in 2014, having broadened the broadcaster's entertainment offering and launched a foray into e-commerce.

Reporting by Mekhla Raina in Bengaluru and Doug Busvine in Berlin; Writing by Edward Taylor; Editing by Sandra Maler and Matthew Lewis