Monday, May 11, 2009

Metro sells NY, Philly, Boston to its former CEO

The Metro International chain announced today (May 11, 2009) that it is selling its three U.S. editions to a group started by former Metro chief executive Pelle Törnberg (pictured) for $2 million.

Törnberg was the founding CEO of Metro, which started in Sweden in 1995. He expanded Metro around the world, but left the company in 2007 with heavy debts. Metro found new readers, but had a harder time finding profits.

Törnberg's Seabay Media Holdings will publish Metro under a service-and-licensing agreement with Metro International, a European holding company with newspapers worldwide.

The three newspapers — in Boston, New York and Philadelphia — have a combined circulation of 590,000 copies per day and reach about 1.2 million readers.

The New York Times Co. will retain its 49 percent stake in Metro Boston for now. But with the Times under pressure to cut costs, it could possibly sell that stake.

The sale follows Metro International's closure of its operations in Spain. Most of Metro's losses last year came from its operations in Spain and the U.S.

The transaction is scheduled to close June 1.