Free daily Metro boosts earnings by selling French unit

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Metro International, the Swedish publisher of free newspapers, reported on Monday a sixfold profit increase by excluding its loss-making French division, soon to be sold to France's TF1 network.

Metro said that the "offer had been received from TF1 for Metro France."

"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 euros ($3.98 million), against a 477,000 euros 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 euros last year.

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

Metro France dragged down the company's numbers because of a 1.26 million euros 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.

© 2011 AFP

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