Not unexpectedly, Orkla's decision to sell it's newspaper division to Mecom has been condemned from north to south throughout this long and narrow country by journalists and politicians alike. Norway's cultural minister, Trond Giske, has expressed his 'disappointment' and emphasised how he would have been open for a dialogue regarding Dagbladet and A-pressen's bids for Orkla, despite the obvious obstacles represented by Norway's strict laws on cross-ownership. The leader of Norway's Conservative Party condemned those very same laws. Former leader of the Conservative party Kaare Willoch told NTB that " One should have refrained from giving foreigners a say over opinion formation in Norway" and said this was far more important than profits. Editors of Orkla's local newspapers across the country have expressed their anger, frustration and sadness. Orkla Media's employees are worried about Montgomery's tabloid past and his reputation for radical cost-cutting and restructurings: they are threatening industrial action and will meet with Giske today to discuss the situation.
However, Stein Erik Hagen, Orkla's chairman told Kampanje (my translation): "The transaction is a 'reversed takeover' where Mecom buys something which is a lot bigger than itself. If you are concerned about Norwegian media ownership, you can buy stocks in Mecom"
Montgomery will effectively own 1-2 percent of the Mecom shares, Orkla 10-20 percent. Berlingske Tidende (BT), the first newspaper I saw quoting sources who claimed to know the sum Mecom has agreed to pay for Orkla Media, indicated that the price was 6,5bn Dkk (about £556m), significantly less than the initial asking price. BT also points out that Mecom has not yet secured the actual funding to go through with the sale. Orkla shares fell after the decision to sell to Mecom was announced and closed down 2pc at the end of trading yesterday.