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Axel Springer takes minority stake in Thrillist

A day after Axel Springer announced plans to purchase a majority stake in Business Insider, CEO and Chairman Mathias Doepfner told CNBC the German publisher is also investing in lifestyle website operator Thrillist Media Group.

In an interview Wednesday on "Squawk Box," Doepfner did not disclose terms of the deal, but said Axel Springer would take a minority stake in Thrillist. He said Thrillist is "a very wonderful mix of information on restaurants, on traveling, on lifestyle products," but said the decision ultimately came down to Thrillist's leadership.

"The main reason why we invested in [Thrillist] is the founder, Ben Lerer. He has convinced us, and we are very much focused on people when we make decisions. It's the same with Business Insider. Henry Blodget was a key factor for our investment," Doepfner said, referring to the co-founder, CEO and editor-in-chief of the business news website.

Axel Springer announced Tuesday it will pay $343 million for nearly 100-percent ownership of Business Insider.

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Doepfner said Blodget had signed a package that increases his financial exposure to Business Insider and gives him incentives to remain with the company for 10 years. Because Axel Springer is taking a minority stake in Thrillist, no such agreement is in place with Lerer, he said.

Lerer, a managing partner at venture capital firm Lerer Hippeau Ventures, founded the male-oriented Thrillist with a college friend in 2004 and is its CEO.

In addition to running its namesake website, Thrillist also operates online tech gear guide Supercompressor and e-commerce company Jack Threads, which it acquired in 2010. The company has annual revenues of $100 million.

Doepfner told CNBC the U.S.has "the biggest and most attractive media market in the world."

"We see tremendous opportunities, and clearly Business Insider is the first big step," he said. "The growth figures are tremendous, growth figures between 70 and 100 percent growth."

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He said Business Insider had already expanded its audience and begun monetizing, and can now focus on creating profit. The company would have already broken even had it not rightly reinvested in its business, he added.

"We'll focus in the next years on growth, and I'm pretty convinced in a couple of years, people will look back and say, well, just $390 million, that was a reasonable price," he said, referring to the cash and debt free valuation of Business Insider.

—CNBC's Katie Kramer contributed reporting to this story.

Correction: An earlier version misstated the year of Thrillist's founding and the acquisition price of Business Insider.

Disclosure: Business Insider is a competitor of CNBC.

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