Growth for Axel Springer as media giant bucks industry trend

European media giant Axel Springer continued to grow in the first half of 2023, despite the challenging economic environment. During this time, the company also founded the Global Generative AI Team, as WELT and BILD both announced plans to provide a news plugin for ChatGPT.

Highlights from the company’s latest financial report include:

  • Compared to the first half of the previous year, Axel Springer was able to increase pro-forma sales by 1.4 percent to almost EUR 1.9 billion.
  • Adjusted EBITDA increased by 12.8 percent in the same period.
  • The share of digital business models in revenue increased to 85.5 percent (previous year: 84.9 percent).
  • The company is following up on a successful 2022, in which revenues of around 3.9 billion euros had been nearly 13 percent higher than in the previous year.
  • Since the start of the strategic partnership with KKR in December 2019, Axel Springer’s revenues have increased by a total of approximately one billion euros.

Mathias Döpfner, CEO of Axel Springer SE, said: “The fact that we were able to grow despite a challenging economic environment is remarkable. I want to thank all our employees for their dedicated and excellent work. Axel Springer is very determined to become a purely digital media company that uses the opportunities of artificial intelligence to make quality journalism and classifieds offerings even more relevant and successful. StepStone’s acquisition of Bayard was a strategically significant move. As one of the largest acquisitions in Axel Springer’s history, it has the potential to be a game changer for StepStone in the U.S. and further fuel their rapid growth.”

Axel Springer employs around 18,000 people worldwide, including around 3,400 journalists. More than half of the employees (52 percent) work outside of Germany. Despite the very challenging market environment and the weaker advertising markets, especially in the US, the journalistic business developed at the previous year’s level in the first half of 2023.

In Germany, the marketing performance in the first half of 2023 was significantly higher compared to the previous year. Lidl became the first advertising customer to run a campaign in both BILD and WELT at the same time exclusively and continuously.

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