GA’s Bill Ford joins board of Axel Springer

19 Sep 2016

General Atlantic (GA) CEO Bill Ford joined the supervisory board of Axel Springer, the company announced on Sept. 10, 2016. He moved into the seat of Wolf Lepenies, a retired German sociology professor, who served on the board for 12 years.

Ford (photo) has been CEO of GA since 2007, and serves on the boards of several companies in the GA portfolio, including IHS Markit and Tory Burch.

In its news release Axel Springer said Ford will “internationalize” the 9-member board.

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Bill Ford, photo courtesy of Axel Springer

It’s only logical that GA got a seat on the Axel Springer board – it is the second-largest shareholder, and one of its most important strategic partners over the last four years.

In 2012, the U.S. venture capital firm was a co-investor in the start-up subsidiary Axel Springer Digital Classifieds (ASDC), investing €237 million for a 30-percent stake in ASDC.

Two years later, ASDC bought back half of GA’s stake for a hefty €446 million. Then in 2015, it purchased the remainder of GA’s share in exchange for an 8.3-percent stake in the parent company Axel Springer SE.

Today, GA holds 5.9 percent in the German media company, making it the largest stakeholder after the private company Axel Springer Gesellschaft für Publizistik (ASGP).

Friede Springer, wife of the late Axel Springer, owns 90 percent of ASGP, and her two children the balance.

Clearly, the GA-Axel Springer partnership has paid off for both sides. ASDC has performed, and grown, consistently since its launch. Indeed, it has become one of Axel Springer’s most valuable assets — in H1 of this year ASDC was the only division to grow revenue.

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Kate Rodriguez

Kate Rodriguez covers the German market for AIM Group. She is a freelance business writer with an extensive background in public policy, business consulting and marketing. Originally from the U.S., Kate is now based in Munich.