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Metro deal to dispose losing newspapers

SWEDISH newspaper group Metro International SA said yesterday that it has agreed to sell its loss-making United States papers, with a combined circulation of 590,000 daily copies reaching some 1.2 million readers, to a company run by a former Metro CEO.

The deal, signed with Pelle Tornberg's newly-formed Seabay Media, includes the free daily newspapers in New York and Philadelphia, as well as the Boston Metro, which is published through a partnership with the Boston Globe.

The Metro daily, which is financed entirely by advertising and handed out for free to commuters, was launched in Stockholm in 1995. It now has more than 81 editions in 22 countries, including those in the US.

Chief Financial Officer Anders Kronborg said the sale of the loss-making US operations was part of the company's strategy to get through the economic and financial crisis.

This also includes the closure of Metro's Spanish operations, which was announced in January and savings made from relocating the head office to Stockholm from London.

"The New York Times just disclosed their first quarter results with a 27-percent drop (in advertising revenue). We are doing better than that, but we are still loss making and I don't see any growth in the market this year or in 2010," Kronborg told The Associated Press.

He said Metro is focusing on growing in Latin America, Asia and Russia.


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