Sanoma puts Belgian magazines up for sale

Summary

The Finnish media company Sanoma has announced it is seeking a buyer for its Belgian magazines, to allow the company to concentrate on Finnish and Dutch markets

Magazine division seems likely to be sold to more than one buyer

The Finnish media company Sanoma has announced it is seeking a buyer for its Belgian magazines, to allow the company to concentrate on Finnish and Dutch markets. Sanoma’s portfolio includes magazines such as Marie Claire, Libelle, Vitaya, Story and Flair, specialist websites and a 33% share in De Vijver Media, which owns TV production house Woestijnvis, TV channels VIER and VIJF and Humo magazine.

According to Aimé Van Hecke, CEO of Sanoma Media België (SMB), the decision will not lead directly to job losses. “All options are open,” she said. Those range from individual sell-offs and joint ventures to a complete sell-out of the local properties. Job losses could follow, depending on the disposal of individual titles. In the Netherlands, where Sanoma is also undergoing restructuring, anywhere from 500 to 1,600 job losses are being predicted.

De Vijver is also one-third owned by Corelio, which publishes Flanders Today, and by partners Wouter Vandenhaute and Erik Watté.

Unions are asking for job security from Sanoma and from any future buyers. The unions are working on the principle that the holding will be split up – the most likely scenario given the diversity of properties. The magazine division seems likely to be sold to more than one buyer.

Corelio CEO Luc Missorten said last week that the company would wait and see. “Our opinion will be formed on the basis of the proposals that are put on the table,” he said, asked if Corelio would consider increasing its stake in De Vijver.