Axel Springer buying local portal to court local classifieds

German news publisher and ad company Axel Springer’s landgrab in online advertising is continuing – this time, in towns and cities around the country.

Its recently-formed Axel Springer Digital Classifieds joint venture is acquiring, the operator of 16-year-old, a network of 337 local news and information sitelets underpinned by several categories of classified ads.

The company claims eight million monthly uniques and is being sold by its founding Stegger family (56.1 percent) and rival publisher Holtzbrink’s Digital Strategy unit (43.9 percent).

Although it publishes several regional, as well as national, newspapers, most of Springer’s online efforts have been at the nationwide level. Now it will gain a large local network through which to pipe’s existing ads as well as those from Springer’s other sites.

Springer publishes one of the world’s most-read newspapers, Bild, but has also been piling heavily in to online-native classifieds, buying a host of such sites, including French property ads site SeLoger for a whopping €633 million and TotalJobs for £110 million. The publisher also operates (auto classifieds), (real estate) and (e-tail).

Springer formed Axel Springer Digital Classifieds together with the investor General Atlantic in March when they acquired TotalJobs. The publisher owns 70 percent and the investor 30 percent of the unit.