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Bonnier Group

Overview

The family-controlled Bonnier group dates from the 1820s and is the largest media corporation in Scandinavia.


Like competitors such as Sanoma WSOY, Schibsted, Orkla and Egmont it is expanding out of saturated local markets into Western and Central Europe. It publishes books, newspapers and magazines, produces and distributes films, has significant financial data services and has radio and television broadcast investments (eg a 49% stake in SBS Radio AB).

As of 2000 Bonnier employed around 9,500 people. Revenue was around SEK14bn, with around 40% of turnover in 2001 outside Sweden.

The group

The group centres on newspaper and book publishing.

Bonnier dominates the Swedish publishing landscape, to the extent that there have been proposals for a Lex Bonnier (similar to the ineffectual Lex Mammi meant to restrict Berlusconi's expansion). It currently has over a quarter of the total newspaper circulation and a higher number of titles. Its magazine interests have a higher market share.

It expanded into newspaper publishing in Norway, Denmark, Latvia and Finland - generally through investments or partnerships (notably a stake in Alma Media, resulting from the 1997 merger of Aamulehti - Finland's second largest newspaper publisher - and commercial television group MTV). In Latvia, for example, it has around 44% of newspaper circulation.

Bonnier is the largest book publisher in the Nordic countries (imprints include Albert Bonnier in Sweden, Cappelens in Norway) and has expanded further south through the acquisition of specialist and general book publishers in Germany, the Netherlands and France.

It acquired SF - the national film production and distribution group in 1973, operates a Scandinavian cinema chain. It had substantial interests in Swedish commercial television and radio. Bonnier Radio AB (14 stations) merged with SBS's radio arm in 2003; Bonnier has a 49% stake in the resultant SBS Radio AB.

Medialinnakkeet notes that in 2001 the distribution of turnover (16.8 million SK) was as follows

  • Sweden - 10,190
  • Denmark - 1,747
  • Norway - 1,509
  • Germany - 1.374
  • Finland - 748
  • Britain - 357
  • Latvia - 235
  • Spain - 139
  • Lithuania - 117
  • the Netherlands - 80
  • France - 65
  • other markets - 278

In 2005 Bonnier and Proventus jointly acquired Alma Media's broadcasting division (inc Finnish TV channel MTV3, a majority holding in the Finnish radio station Radio Nova and 23.4% of Swedish TV4 AB) for €463 million. The deal followed an unsolicited €705m bid for Alma by Schibsted. It is expected that Almanova, a newly established company, will acquire the Bonnier (33%) and Proventus (8%) stake in Alma Media for €340 million.