Aftonbladet ditches free paper

Aftonbladet ditches free paper
Swedish tabloid newspaper Aftonbladet has decided to ditch its free sister paper Punkt SE.

The move comes after Norwegian media giant Schibsted announced it had bought 35 percent of the shares in Metro Sweden for 350 million kronor ($57 million).

Schibsted, which owns both Aftonbladet and Svenska Dagbladet, also said it was entering into an advertising agreement with Metro.

Aftonbladet’s brief flirtation with the free newspaper market was a financal failure. In 2007 Punkt SE made a total loss of 198 million kronor. For the first quarter of 2008, the free paper ran a loss of 44 million kronor.

The costs of the closure are expected to amount to 65 million kronor, said Schibsted in a statement.

Schibsted’s Sweden manager Gunnar Strömblad said Metro Sweden was a good match for the company’s existing newspapers.

“Metro is very good at sales and Schibsted is very strong when it comes to business development,” he said.

Schibsted expects its collaboration with Metro on the advertising market to result in income synergies of 40-50 million kronor after two to three years.

The Norwegian company’s share acquisition also entitiles it to two places on the board of Metro Sweden.

Before the deal goes through however, the companies must receive approval from the Swedish Competition Authority (Konkurrensverket).