German Newspaper War: Axel Springer Makes Bid for WAZ Group
Springer’s bid reportedly values WAZ at nearly $2 billion.
COLOGNE, Germany – European publishing giant Axel Springer has thrown down the gauntlet in the battle for control of the WAZ group, Germany’s third largest newspaper conglomerate. Springer, which owns Bild, Europe’s largest tabloid, has reportedly made a bid for several of WAZ’s key assets in a deal that values the entire WAZ group at nearly $2 billion.
The offer comes as WAZ shareholder Petra Grotkamp, who controls 17 percent of the firm, is in the midst of a takeover deal herself. Grotkamp, the daughter of WAZ founder Jakob Funke, has offered $650 million (€470 million) for 50 percent of the company held by the heirs of Funke’s partner Erich Brost. But that deal values WAZ at a considerably lower $1.3 billion. Springer has so far declined comment. But the stage is now set for a battle royal over WAZ. The deep-pocked Grotkamp is expected to fight any Springer deal.
At stake is one of the Europe’s great grey ladies. WAZ controls 27 regional daily and 13 weekly newspapers across Europe, employing some 15,000 people. Its revenue last year was $1.5 billion (€1.1 billion).