Awin parent company Axel Springer has announced action to acquire the majority of competitor affilinet, announced in a blog post this morning (August 2). 

The transaction currently pends approval by antitrust authorities, after which Europe’s largest publishing house will own 80% of the newly-formed company, against just 20% for United Internet. Before that takes place, Axel Springer will buy out AWIN AG shares currently owned by Swisscom which account for 47.5% – worth over €60 million – under an option agreement. 

Following the merge, the new “global affiliate network” will be headquartered in Berlin and led by current Awin CEO, Mark Walters, and according to both groups, will lay the groundwork for an “intended stock market listing”. 

Long-fought rivalry

Having launched in Germany in 1997, affilinet has been a long-standing presence since the days of the affiliate industry’s early growth and now claims around 200 employees across eight European markets, including Austria, Switzerland, Benelux, France, Spain and the UK. 

In the UK especially, under the hand of former MD Helen Southgate, affilinet was a key competitor to Affiliate Window prior to its consolidation with zanox in March this year; today’s announcement could shed new light on Southgate’s departure in April.

For Awin, the merger is the latest chapter in what’s been a period of aggressive global expansion. The network started the year with a land-grab in the US, acquiring affiliate network ShareASale and its 4,500 advertisers and 100,000 active publishers overnight. Meanwhile, a recent partnership with Commission Factory provided a strategic foothold in Australia and access to the burgeoning APAC market.

“This is an exciting time for both of our companies and the industry as a whole,” said Walters.

“Affiliate marketing is attracting a new wave of publishers from social and traditional media who are driving growth in the channel. Combining forces with affilinet will enable us to shape the industry of the future for all our partners.”