Axel Springer in negotiations with KKR for potential investment

FRANKFURT (Reuters) - German publishing house Axel Springer SE said on Wednesday it is in negotiations with private equity firm KKR and Friede Springer of the Springer family for a potential strategic investment of KKR in the company.

The negotiations allow KKR to launch a public tender offer to other Axel Springer shareholders to buy their shares after KKR has agreed on a consortium with companies held by Friede Springer and Axel Springer Chief Executive Mathias Döpfner, according to a company statement.

Döpfner and Friede Springer, who is the widow of the group’s founder, do not intend to sell their shares in the company, the statement added.

Axel Springer said it is currently open to a public tender offer and investment by KKR, or any other structural steps, adding that legal, tax and financial feasibility is yet to be reviewed by the parties involved.

Bloomberg reported earlier on Wednesday that the Springer family and KKR were considering a bid to take Axel Springer private.

Springer’s shares have underperformed over the past year as rivals have restructured and spun off their faster-growing digital classifieds assets, leaving the publisher of the Bild tabloid trading at a discount to pure-play digital competitors.

Springer, which has a market value of 4.95 billion euros ($5.51 billion), is controlled by the family of the company’s late founder Axel Springer.

Reporting by Douglas Busvine and Bhargav Acharya; editing by David Evans and Kirsten Donovan