KKR’s Henry Kravis persuaded Ringier, a 180 year old Swiss publishing business, to do a joint deal for the latter’s digital assets, with KKR holding a 49% stake. Chairman Michael Ringier, the fifth generation managing the publisher, had some doubts about involvement with the private equity firm and was concerned the legendary publisher would have to sacrifice quality. However, KKR is a family affair as well, with Kravitz’s relatives involved in the business, and the two men clinched the deal.
Ringier CEO Marc Walder was impressed that Kravis, “started talking about his beginning and his principles and why he’s interested in working in a well-known family company. This was very important to us. There was no bluffing, no negotiating tactics.” The Swiss company is expanding its move from print to digital and plans to make $100 million Swiss Francs ($109 million) worth of online acquisitions, particularly in the area of classified ads. Ringier will still keep its print business going. It is expected that KKR will hold onto the stake in Ringier’s digital business for four or five years before selling it or spinning it off as an IPO.