a media industry resource

Axel Springer Group: landmarks


This chronology is indicative only. It covers -

  • beginnings (1946)
  • swallows Ullstein (1956)
  • at its peak? (1968)
  • second generation (1986)
  • trouble with Kirch (2000)

Context is provided by the broader communications and media timeline on this site.


1912 Axel Caesar Springer born in Hamburg, subsequently inherits father's newspaper and Hammerich & Lesser publishing house

1946 founds Nordwestdeutsche Hefte newspaper and radio magazine Hör Zu

1947 forms Axel Springer GmbH

1948 launches women’s magazine Constanze

1948 launches daily Hamburger Abendblatt

1952 launches national tabloid Bild-Zeitung

1953 buys Die Welt and Welt am Sonntag broadsheets

1956 launches tabloid Bild am Sonntag

Swallows Ullstein

1956 buys stake in Ullstein publishing group

1959 buys majority of Ullstein AG, including Berliner Morgenpost newspaper, B.Z. and Ullstein books

1961 sells part of Constanze to Gruner+Jahr

1964 buys Düsseldorf Mittag newspaper and Kindler & Schiermeyer publishing group

1965 founds teen magazine Twen, buys Bravo magazine

1965 launches Kicker sports magazine

1966 launches Eltern magazine

1966 sells Quick, Revue, Kicker and Twen to Bauer for DM60m

1967 buys radio and TV program guide Funk Uhr

1968 sells Das Neue Blatt and Bravo to Bauer

At its peak?

1968 government inquiry indicates that Axel Springer publishes 40% of West German newspapers and 20% of magazines

1970 buys Lubecher Nachrichten newspaper

1971 buys stake in in the Bergdorfer Zeitung

1971 buys Elmshorner Nachrichten

1976 found Cora Verlag to publish bodice rippers

1976 launches Musikjoker and Ski magazines

1978 launches women's magazine Journal für Haushalt & Familie

1979 buys majority holding in Kunst & Technik Verlag, inc Weltkunst and Kunstpreis-Jahrbuch annual

1983 launches women's magazine Bild der Frau.

1983 launches Tennis Magazin, Foto Magazin and tv magazine Bildwoche

1984 group becomes public company

1984 Kirch buys 10% stake (later increased to 40.05%)

1985 Axel Springer dies

Second generation

1986 launch of car magazine AUTO BILD

1986 buys stake in local daily Pinneberger Tageblatt

1986 takes stake in Radio Schleswig-Holstein, subsequently invests in six other radio stations

1987 abortive takeover by Burda family and Kirch

1988 weekly SPORT BILD launched

1988 increases Bergdorfer Zeitung stake to 100%

1988 buys Spanish magazine publisher SARPE

1988 buys stake in Austrian Der Standard

1989 buys stake in local newspapers Hamburger Anzeigen & Nachrichten and Tiroler Tageszeitung

1990 buys stake in local papers Leipziger Volkszeitung and Rostock Ostseezeitung

1990 buys Észak-Magyarország and Hajdu-Bihari Napló in Hungary

1991 Internationale Sportrechte-Verwertungsgesellschaft (ISPR) founded in partnership with Kirch

1992 launches TVneu magazine and B.Z. am Sonntag

1994 Axel Springer and Kirch gain licence for Hamburg 1 tv station

1994 launches PANI DOMU, a women's magazine in Poland

1995 launches Allegra women's magazine

1995 sells stake in Der Standard

1995 pulls out of Europe Online consortium

1995 takes stake in AOL Bertelsmann Online with AOL, Bertelsmann and Deutsche Telekom

1995 launches CIENIE I BLASKI and NA ZYWO in Poland

1996 launches family magazine FAMILIE & CO

1996 takes stake in Aktuell Presse Fernsehen

1996 launches COMPUTER BILD

1996 buys majority of Finanzen Verlag (later increased to 100%)

1997 buys 7 of Hungary's 19 provincial dailies

1998 buys 95% stake in Munich-based Verlagsgruppe Goethestrasse (Econ, List, Claassen, Sudwest, Ludwig and von Schroder imprints)

1998 launches women's magazine OLIVIA in Poland

1998 sells 25% stake in Austrian regional News publishing to Bertelsmann's Grüner +Jahr

1998 buys Spanish newspaper publisher Hobby Press S.A

1998 launches COMPUTER BILD editions in Poland and Spain

1998 launches Euro am Sonntag newspaper

1999 buys 51% of Canadian animation studio GRB

1999 buys tv talk show production company Schwartzkopff TV

1999 sells 10% stake in AOL Bertelsmann Online

1999 buys majority of Swiss publishing group HandelsZeitung

1999 takes 25% stake in Studio Hamburg and 50% in Metropol Film & Fernsehgesellschaft

1999 buys majority of Yukom Medien GmbH in Munich and Sportmagazin Verlag in Austria

1999 buys Romanian magazine publisher LvB Invest International

2000 buys majority of French publishing company Media Mag SA

Trouble with Kirch

2000 takes 11.5% stake in ProSiebenSat.1 television group, controlled by Kirch

2001 Kirch buys Axel Springer's share in Sport1, taking equity to 76.5%

2001 buys publisher Wilhelm Heyne

2001 buys Budapest Lapkiado, Zold Ujsag and Vilagazdasag publishers in Hungary

2001 buys Automedia publishers in Czech Republic

2001 buys VNU Budapest from VNU

2002 Kirch collapses, unbundling of relationship with Axel Springer commences

2003 Axel Springer agrees to sell Ullstein-Heyne-List book publishing interests to Bertelsmann subsidiary Random House

2003 Deutsche Bank sells 19.4% of Axel Springer to Hellman & Friedman

2005 announces €2.5bn takeover of dominant German commercial broadcaster ProSiebenSat (abandoned in 2006 after refusal by regulators)

2006 buys 25% of Dogan TV (Turkey) from Dogan family for €375m