German media group Axel Springer to release and list its online job portal StepStone in Frankfurt, hoping to secure a € 7 billion valuation for the unit at a launch scheduled for the first half of next year.
Private company Axel Springer has appointed Rothschild as its IPO adviser and is in the process of questioning banks to lead the offer, according to people with knowledge of the matter.
Axel Springer has said he will not comment on speculation, while StepStone said he is constantly examining options for further growth.
The planned listing is the latest step in the evolution of the German media group since its privatization in 2019 by the buyout group KKR and the pension fund CPPIB together with its main shareholder Friede Springer and the CEO of the company Mathias. Döpfner.
The move comes three months after the company agreed to buy Politico for nearly $ 1 billion, as part of the company’s ambition to enter the U.S. media market and build on its earlier acquisition. from Business Insider.
These efforts have been overshadowed by the company’s handling of allegations against the editor of its flagship German daily Bild, one of Europe’s largest circulation newspapers. Editor-in-chief Julian Reichelt is said to have had a series of connections with interns he later promoted.
Axel Springer briefly reinstated Reichelt after putting him on probation in a spring 2021 compliance investigation. But the company fired him this month a day after a New York Times article on the extent of the problems with the workplace culture at Bild.
The editor cited “new information on Julian Reichelt’s current behavior”, saying he “did not clearly separate private and professional matters” even after the investigation.
The 2019 buyback agreement valued the publisher’s equity at 6.7 billion euros and more than 9 billion euros including debt. It came at a time when the company was warning that revenue and core profits would decline as it struggled with a tough advertising market.
Döpfner said moving away from public market pressures would benefit the company, which is now organized into four operating segments, including StepStone. The other units are its German media business, which also includes the newspaper Die Welt, its international media business and an online real estate unit.
KKR is Axel Springer’s largest shareholder with a 35.6% stake. Friede Springer owns 22.5%, Döpfner 21.9% and CPPIB 12.9%, with the remainder in the hands of other family members and the Friede Springer non-profit foundation.
Axel Springer bought StepStone in 2009, with Döpfner stating at the time that it was part of a “clear focus on continuing to expand our digital business” as readers moved online. It bought Totaljobs in 2012. Last year, the Berlin-based group lost to Norwegian Adevinta in a deal to buy out eBay’s classifieds business.
StepStone has more than 3,500 employees in more than 30 countries, according to its website.