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The deal price tops the $400 million or so valuation that Axios discussed with Axel Springer last year, according to three people familiar with the matter. After those talks, Axios raised another funding round, led by Cox, that valued the company at $430 million.
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Cox Enterprises is not buying out HQ, which Axios is spinning out into a separate company. Mr. Schwartz will be chief executive of that company, and Cox will take a minority stake, with Mr. VandeHei serving as chairman, a person with knowledge of the deal said.
The deal to acquire Axios harks back to the media roots of Cox Enterprises, a family-owned privately held company based in Atlanta that generates most of its revenue from its cable and broadband businesses. The company traces its beginnings to 1898, when James Middleton Cox bought what is now The Dayton Daily News for $26,000. In 1939, Mr. Cox purchased the newspaper that would eventually become The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, and the company still owns both publications.
“It’s a big part of who we are and what we do,” Mr. Taylor said. “We’ve been in the news business for 124 years, and this speaks to the legacy our grandparents left us.”
Cox Enterprises, which already owned a minority stake in Axios, is putting $25 million of cash on its balance sheet to fund the company’s growth. Mr. VandeHei said Axios planned to build a series of subscription products, similar to those offered by Politico Pro, on topics including technology, politics and legislative policy.
Axios also plans to continue starting more regional editions, which already exist in 24 cities including Philadelphia, Des Moines and Nashville. Mr. VandeHei said the company aimed to be in at least 100 cities in the coming years.