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Schibsted to sell its media operation to main owner for $568 million

Illustration shows Schibsted logo

By Louise Rasmussen

COPENHAGEN (Reuters) -Norway's Schibsted said on Monday it has made a non-binding agreement worth 6.2 billion crowns ($568 million) to sell its news media operations to its main owner Tinius Trust, splitting the group into two companies.

If finalised, the traditional media company would be fully owned by the Tinius Trust, while the other, owning online market places such as classified ads and other ventures, would remain listed on the stock market, Schibsted said in a statement.

As part of the deal, Tinius said it has agreed to remove Schibsted's dual-class share structure by January 2026, which would ensure equal voting rights for all shareholders and thus loosen the trust's grip on the company.

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Schibsted's share price rose 10% by 0802 GMT.

Tinius Trust's investment vehicle Blommenholm Industrier is Schibsted's largest owner with a 26% stake. Tinius would keep its stake in Schibsted's other businesses after the transaction.

The total deal value consists of 5.4 billion Norwegian crowns for Schibsted's News Media business and its minority stakes in Norsk Telegrambyra, TT Nyhetsbyran and Lokalavisene, as well as its stake in Polaris Media worth 0.8 billion crowns.

The deal must still be approved by Schibsted's general meeting and is contingent upon the parties' agreement on final transaction agreements, Schibsted said.

It said it expects to close the deal in the first half of 2024 and intends to use cash proceeds to return capital to its shareholders.

"The technological crossroads we are facing requires new measures," Ole Jacob Sunde, chair of the Tinius Trust, said.

"Both the media and marketplaces business will benefit from focusing on their respective business areas. This will ensure full attention to both areas without them having to compete for capital and resources," he added.

Schibsted in January announced cost cuts of $50 million at its News Media unit due to rising paper and energy prices.

($1 = 10.9093 Norwegian crowns)

(Reporting by Louise Breusch Rasmussen, editing by Anna Ringstrom, Terje Solsvik and Sharon Singleton)