Bonnier takes over TV4

Bonnier AB has signed an agreement to buy Proventus's 50 percent ownership in Nordic Broadcasting, which holds all shares in the Finnish MTV Group and 98.9 per cent of the shares in Swedish TV4.

Since Bonnier AB already holds the remaining 50 percent of shares in Nordic Broadcasting, the move means that Bonnier now assumes full control over Sweden’s largest commercial television channel.

Proventus is to remain an active financial partner in Nordic Broadcasting, with Daniel Sachs as Chairman of the Board.

“We are proud to have contributed to reinforcing both TV4’s and MTV’s competitive edge and profitability. As an active financial partner in Nordic Broadcasting, we will focus on continued internationalization and structural opportunities.

“At the same time the businesses within Nordic Broadcasting can be strengthened through the closer collaboration with other companies in the Bonnier Group that this structure enables,” said Sachs in a statement.

Bonnier’s position was strengthened in November last year when Norwegian media giant Schibsted sold its shares in TV4 to Nordic Broadcasting. Torsten Larsson, CEO of Nordic Broadcasting, is positive about the move.

“With Nordic Broadcasting as a wholly owned subsidiary, we are creating the best conditions for TV4 and MTV to fully benefit from cooperation with other companies in the Bonnier Group. We will also continue to evaluate new opportunities for expansion,” said Larsson.

The Social Democrats’ Party Secretary and former Culture Minister Marita Ulvskog is of the opinion that Bonnier has long planned to take over TV4.

“They have tricked a lot of people, not just the state but also other TV companies and other actors that could have been important owners of TV4. As a consequence the media market will get an even stronger concentration of owners.

“It will have a very negative impact on diversity and may at worst lead to actual quality problems. They are acting in a very tough and provocative manner in an area of the economy that is so closely tied to democracy,” she said.

Ulvskog was no longer culture minister when Proventus and Bonnier took control of TV4 through the purchase of Schibsted’s shares, but she has always been among the most vocal critics.

“I commented that I saw dangers with the deal. But at the same time I expressed my hope that Proventus, which was a new actor on the media market, would play a major role. That would have been good but I doubted greatly whether it would actually happen,” she said.

“Marita Ulvskog is becoming more and more like a thoroughbred ostrich,” said TV4’s CEO Jan Scherman.

“Our ownership paragraph was written 17 years ago and there were good reasons for it at the time. But a lot has happened since then. Then there were 20 TV channels in competition, now there are 300. In this regard I think it s quite good that we secure Swedish ownership of TV4,” he added.

Scherman also wondered why the Social Democrats had been so quiet about all other media deals in recent years.

Culture Minister Lena Adelsohn Liljeroth does not share Ulvskog’s opinion of Bonnier and has said she is not concerned by the company’s ownership of TV4.