Global Economy Prize Laureate 2016

Friede Springer

Friede Springer, born August 15, 1942, in Oldsum on the island of Föhr, is a German publisher. She is the majority shareholder and Vice Chairwoman of the Supervisory Board of Axel Springer SE, one of the largest publishing houses in Europe. Following the death of her husband, Axel Springer, in 1985, Friede Springer secured the company’s future by systematically buying back shares and regaining control of the business. In the process, she had to contend with rival media companies, internal resentment, and disputes with other family heirs. Ultimately, she succeeded in remodeling the company, transforming it into an international multimedia and digital publishing house.

The daughter of a gardener and a housekeeper, Friede Springer was initially apprenticed as a hotel clerk before beginning work as a nanny. At the age of 23, she answered a newspaper ad that took her to the home of well-known publisher Axel Springer in the Blankenese district of Hamburg. They married in 1978. From then on, Friede Springer dedicated her life to her husband and his publishing business. She already had an active role within the company during her husband’s lifetime. After his death in 1985, she became manager of Axel Springer and sole executive manager of Springer Holding. Towards the end of his life, Axel Springer had sold a quarter of his shares to media company Burda and floated a further 49 percent on the open market. Under the guidance of Friede Springer, the Springer heirs succeeded in buying back the Burda holding. Following subsequent disputes, she bought out the other family members to become the majority shareholder. In 2002, she appointed Mathias Döpfner as the new CEO. He severed the ties with Munich-based entrepreneur Leo Kirch, and the company was successfully relaunched in the digital media market. Today, Axel Springer SE is one of the largest and most successful media companies in Europe.Friede Springer is personally involved in a number of charitable ventures, including the non-profit Friede Springer Foundation and the Friede Springer Heart Foundation, which supports research and treatment in the field of cardiovascular disease. In addition to numerous honorary positions, Friede Springer has received many decorations, including the Great Cross of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany (1996), the Leo Baeck Prize awarded by the Central Council of Jews in Germany (2000), and the insignia of Chevalier of the French Legion d’Honneur (2002).

Global Economy Prize Laureates 2016