Paper merger a possibility

Sweden’s Bonnier might purchase Aftonbladet, unconfirmed reports say

Michael Sandelson
The Foreigner

Aftonbladet, Sweden’s largest and most digitally-oriented newspaper publisher has for years been fighting a fierce battle for readers, subscribers, and advertising income against competitor Expressen.

Norwegian business daily Dagens Næringsliv (DN) writes that a merger involving Bonnier-owned Expressen with 91 percent Schibsted-owned Aftonbladet is regarded as being one of the most obvious remaining moves in the Swedish media market.

In Norway, Schibsted owns national daily Aftenposten, regional papers Stavanger Aftenblad, Bergens Tidende, Fædrelandsvennen, and national tabloid Verdens Gang (VG).

The alleged deal, if it takes place, would be another of several sell-off and reduction moves conducted recently. Schibsted has recently announced sales of its free Spain publication 20 Minutos, publishing arm Schibsted Forlag, non-print book website Ebok.no, and gratis French publication 20 Minutes.

The company’s Swedish arm, Schibsted Sverige, is also reducing its ownership stake in Svenska Dagbladet from 100 to 30 percent, and forming a new media company with Sweden-based MittMedia.

Anders Rikter, communications director at Schibsted, told DN that selling Aftonbladet was “completely out of the question.”

Schibsted Sverige’s Raoul Grünthal has also refuted any firm offer or deal was afoot, dismissing the thought that Bonnier would buy Aftonbladet as “absurd.”

Bonnier communications director David Salsbäck remarked that they do not comment on buy-up speculations “as a matter of principle.”

This article was originally published on The Foreigner. To subscribe to The Foreigner, visit theforeigner.no.

It also appeared in the July 3, 2015, issue of the Norwegian American Weekly. To subscribe, visit SUBSCRIBE or call us at (206) 784-4617.

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