France sale boosts Metro earnings

France sale boosts Metro earnings
The pending sale of its loss-making French division has boosted the profits at Metro International, the Swedish publisher of free newspapers, the firm reported on Monday.

Metro confirmed that France’s TF1 network is the buyer of its French division.

“The due diligence is currently being carried out and subject to the outcome the deal is likely to be completed in the near future,” it said.

Excluding Metro France and Metro Hungary, which the Swedish company sold in June, Metro’s net profit in the second quarter was €2.83 million ($3.98 million), against a €477,000 for the April – June period a year earlier.

Including those discontinued units, the company suffered a net loss of €734,00 euros, against a profit of €477,000 last year.

Sales (excluding the discontinued units), were up 17 percent to €55 million.

Metro France dragged down the company’s numbers because of a €1.26 million operating loss attributable to a cost-cutting plan to fight competition from French dailies 20 Minutes and Direct Matin/Soir.

TF1, a private company and France’s largest broadcaster, has since 2003 held 34.3 percent of Metro France.

Metro said Latin America was a priority expansion market. It has six editions in the region.

Metro launched the world’s free daily in Sweden in 1995 and is now published in over 100 cities in 20 countries.

Its main markets are France (2.4 million readers), the Netherlands (1.71 million readers), Russia (1.57 million), Italy and Sweden.

Metro has some 17.13 million readers.

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