Swedish publisher Metro swings to profit in 2010

Swedish publisher Metro International, which publishes free daily newspapers in over 100 cities around the world, announced it had swung back to profit in 2010 thanks to restructuring and the recovery of the advertising market.

Swedish publisher Metro swings to profit in 2010

The company posted a net profit of €4 million ($5.5 million) in 2010 compared to a loss of €21.7 million in 2009. Sales inched up 1 percent to €222.5 million, Metro added in its annual earnings report, but excluding sales of assets and acquisitions, sales were up 8 percent.

“Metro’s turnaround continued in 2010,” CEO Per Mikael Jensen said, saying the company’s performance had 2009 “improved quarter by quarter” since the fourth quarter of 2009.

Metro said Sweden, Canada, Hong Kong, Russia and Latin America had high sales growth, while sales in France, Holland and Denmark were weak last year.

The fourth quarter of 2010 was crucial for the company, with sales jumping 15 percent to €70.5 million and a net profit of €8.3 million, up from €5.9 million for the fourth quarter in 2009.

The company’s operational income was brought down by investments made in the French market to better compete with other free dailies. Because of a boost in advertising ahead of the holiday season, the fourth quarter is usually the company’s best, while the first quarter of the year is usually the worst.

Metro international was launched in Sweden in 1995 and is published in 19 countries. It has some 16.69 million readers at the end of 2010, compared to 16.81 million at the end of 2009. The daily’s main markets are France, the Netherlands, Italy and Sweden.

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Newspaper bomb threat traced to police

A bomb threat which emptied the offices of a newspaper in Luleå in northern Sweden last week has been traced to the town’s police headquarters.

Last Wednesday the offices of the Norrländska Socialdemokraten (NSD) newspaper in Luleå were evacuated after the newspaper received a bomb threat via email.

The police were called to investigate, taking with them specially trained bomb-sniffing dogs, but by Wednesday evening investigators concluded the threat was a hoax.

But the story took a new twist on Monday when it was revealed that the IP-address associated with the threatening message is affiliated with police headquarters in Luleå.

“We’re now looking at all of our internet terminals, around 35 of them,” Norbotten police spokesperson Roger Jönsson told the TT news agency.

The police have several possible explanations: that the police’s network was hacked, that the message’s IP-address was wrong, or that the threat was sent by someone from within police headquarters.

“I’m not aware that the Swedish police (network) has been hacked, not in the last year, in any case. But it’s true, even the Pentagon has been hacked,” said Jönsson, referring to the headquarters of the US military.

The matter has been reported to the Swedish National Police-related Crimes Unit (Riksenheten för polismål). In addition, four investigators from the National Investigation Department (Rikskriminalen) are also working on the case.

Jönsson explained that police are now prioritising three things, including confirmation that the IP-address from the owners of the newspaper, Norrköpings Tidningar. From there, the IP-address must be connected to a computer, and then on to the person who used the computer.

Finally, police will look into whether or not their network has been hacked.

“As soon as we know something more we’ll be sure to go public with it,” said Jönsson, adding that some computers may have had several users.

According to Jönsson, the threat wasn’t sent in an actual email, but rather was delivered through on online tip form on the newspaper website.

However the threat, which arrived in the form of an email at 8.39am last Wednesday, was very clear, stating that the offices of the newspaper would be blown up at 2.35pm that afternoon, according to the newspaper.

Four hours after the threat was received, employees at NSD started to evacuate the building. But by 8.45pm police gave the all-clear.

“It feels unpleasant and unnecessary,” said NSD editor in chief Anders Ingvarsson at the time.