Axel Springer AG

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Axel Springer SE
Type Aktiengesellschaft
Traded as FWBSPR
Industry Publishing
Founded 1946
Founder(s) Axel Springer
Headquarters Berlin, Germany
Key people Mathias Döpfner (CEO and Chairman of the management board), Giuseppe Vita (Chairman of the supervisory board)
Products Magazines, newspapers, online portals, affiliate marketing
Revenue €3.31 billion (2012)[1]
Operating income €428.6 million (2010)[1]
Profit €252.7 million (2010)[1]
Total assets €3.603 billion (end 2010)[1]
Total equity €1.773 billion (end 2010)[1]
Employees 11,560 (average, 2010)[1]

Axel Springer SE is one of the largest multimedia companies in Europe, and the third-largest media company in Germany, with more than 13,651 employees and with annual revenues of about €3.3 billion.[2] The Company is active in a total of 36 countries, including Hungary, Poland, the Czech Republic, Russia and Germany, France, Spain, Switzerland. It has more than 230 newspapers and magazines, more than 80 online offerings as well as holdings in television and radio stations.

Front entrance to the Axel Springer headquarters building in West Berlin, 1977, with the Fritz Klimsch owl sculpture.

It was started in 1946/1947 by journalist Axel Springer.[3] Its current CEO is Mathias Döpfner. The Axel Springer company is the largest publishing house in Europe and controls the largest share of the German market for daily newspapers; 23.6%, largely because its flagship tabloid Bild is the highest-circulation newspaper in Europe with a daily readership in excess of 12 million.[4]

Newspapers, magazines, online offerings[edit]

The media offerings of Axel Springer SE are clustered in: current news, autos, sports, computers and consumer electronics, as well as lifestyle.

Side view of the Axel Springer corporate headquarters in Berlin.
Axel Springer building in Hamburg.

Selection of publications[edit]

  • Die Welt, the intellectual flagship of the company
  • Bild, newspaper with the largest circulation in Europe
  • Auto Bild, automobile magazine with the largest circulation in Europe
  • Audio Video Foto Bild, magazine for consumer electronics
  • Computer Bild, published in nine countries, is Europe's best-selling computer magazine
  • Sport Bild, published in many countries, is Europe's biggest sport magazine
  •, the biggest Czech internet car portal including, starting in Slovakia and Poland as well
  • Fakt, the biggest daily tabloid in Poland
  • B.Z., local newspaper
  • Dziennik Gazeta Prawna, the intellectual flagship of the company in Poland
  • Watchmi, a personalized TV content discovery system[5]
  • Musikexpress, a monthly music magazine
  • the German edition of the magazine Rolling Stone

In addition, the company is active in the online marketing business with its shares in zanox, Digital Window, and and owns several classified advertising online platforms such as the online career site StepStone, the real estate marketing portal immonet and price comparison platform idealo.

Corporate principles[edit]

Part of the articles of association of Axel Springer AG are the five socio-political preambles that were written by Axel Springer in 1967, amended in 1990 following German reunification and supplemented in 2001.[6]

  1. To uphold liberty and law in Germany, a country belonging to the Western family of nations, and to further the unification of Europe.
  2. To promote reconciliation of Jews and Germans and support the vital rights of the State of Israel.
  3. To support the Transatlantic Alliance, and solidarity with the United States of America in the common values of free nations.
  4. To reject all forms of political totalitarism.
  5. To uphold the principles of a free social market economy.


  • 1946: Publisher Hinrich Springer (66) and his son Axel Springer (34) establish the limited company Axel Springer Verlag GmbH. Launch of the NORDWESTDEUTSCHE HEFTE and the radio and TV magazine HÖRZU.
  • 1948: Launch of the evening newspaper HAMBURGER ABENDBLATT, the first daily created by Axel Springer.
  • 1952: Launch of the popular daily BILD.
  • 1953: Axel Springer Verlag buys the publishing house DIE WELT, including the daily paper DIE WELT and the Sunday paper WELT am SONNTAG.
  • 1956: Company headquarters in Hamburg is built.
  • 1959: The company acquires the majority holding in Ullstein AG, including the Berlin newspapers BERLINER MORGENPOST and B.Z. and the Ullstein book-publishing business.
The Springer building in Berlin was built adjacent to the Berlin Wall
East Berlin "death strip" of the Berlin Wall, as seen from the Axel Springer Building
  • 1966: Official opening of the Berlin headquarters. Hamburg remains important site.
  • 1968: After the attack on the students' leader Rudi Dutschke on 11 April 1968 the APO (Extra-Parliamentary Opposition) starts acts of violence against the company. The APO had a history of animosity with the Springer Group's allegedly biased coverage of the student movement. For instance, in the wake of the shooting of Benno Ohnesorg by the police at a student demonstration against the Shah, one Springer paper, Berliner Zeitung, reported that “what happened yesterday in Berlin had nothing to do with politics… It was criminal in the most sickening way.”.[7] In fact, Ohnesorg, who had never attended a demonstration before, had been shot in the back while trying to leave the demonstration.[8]
  • 1972–73: Building of the offset-printing plant in Essen-Kettwig.
  • 1984: Official opening of the offset printing facility in Ahrensburg near Hamburg.
  • 1985: Axel Springer Verlag AG goes public.
  • 1986: The first licensed edition of AUTO BILD comes out in Italy. Other licensed editions and joint venture publications later appear in twenty European countries, Indonesia and Thailand.
  • 1993: Official opening of the offset printing works in Berlin-Spandau.
  • 2001: Axel Springer and T-Online establish a joint subsidiary AG.
  • 2002: Launch of
  • 2003: Name is changed to Axel Springer AG
  • 2009: Axel Springer AG acquires affiliate marketers Zanox and Digital Window as well as StepStone ASA[9]
  • 2010 a $635.7 million offer by Axel for leading French real estate website operator caused seloger shares to rise as much as 32% the most since it went public. Within 3 days Axel increased its offer 15.6% to $735 million after seloger shareholders rejected the deal.[10][11]
  • 2013: Springer sells its regional newspapers, woman's magazines, and television magazines to Funke Mediengruppe for €920 million[12]
  • 2013: Publications Grand Public, a French magazine publisher owned by Springer, is sold to Reworld Media.[13]


The Axel Springer SE is criticized by German leftists and Muslims who maintain that Springer media show excessive support for Israel.[14] Axel Springer AG refused to publish advertising campaigns of the Left Party in 2005 as well as of the socialist PDS in earlier elections.[15]

Major competitors in the German publishing market include Bauer Media Group, Bertelsmann, Hubert Burda Media, and Holtzbrinck.


In the 1960s and 1970s the company was targeted by a number of left-wing groups. It was denounced by German-American writer Reinhard Lettau in an incendiary speech at the Freie Universität Berlin; in 1968 their Berlin headquarters was blockaded by students; in 1972 the Red Army Faction claimed responsibility for six bombs placed in the Hamburg building (only three exploded and 17 people were injured) and in 1975 a bomb exploded in their Paris office, the "6th of March Group" (connected to the Red Army Faction) claimed responsibility.[16]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f "Axel Springer AG". Retrieved 2 July 2013. 
  2. ^
  3. ^
  4. ^ Hans J. Kleinsteuber in Kelly. M, Mazzoleni. G and McQuail. D. eds. 2004 "The Media in Europe. The Euromedia Handbook."
  5. ^
  6. ^
  7. ^ Jeremy Varon, Bringing the War Home: The Weather Underground, the Red Army Faction, and Revolutionary Violence in the Sixties and Seventies (Los Angeles: University of California Press, 2004), p.39
  8. ^ Jillian Becker, Hitler’s Children: The Story of the Baader-Meinhof Terrorist Gang (New York: JB Lippincott, 1977), p.39
  9. ^ Chronicle on
  10. ^ "Seloger.Com Shares Rise Most Ever as Shareholder Questions Springer Offer". bloomberg. 13 September 2010. Retrieved 2 July 2013. 
  11. ^ "Axel Springer plans no higher offer for". 16 September 2010. 
  12. ^ Sell-Off: Newspaper Giant Turns Back on Journalism
  13. ^ Axel Springer sheds some French magazines - report
  14. ^ German: Springer is a speaking tube of zionist interests
  15. ^ German: Springer-Press boycotts Left Party
  16. ^

External links[edit]