Yesterday's announcement that the Norwegian Media Authority will intervene against Schibsted's grand plans to create a newspaper group that would dwarf all other players in the Norwegian market, has apparently not made Schibsted's execs give up on their grand vision, but it's looking increasingly unlikely that the merger will go through – unless the terms are radically altered.
The Media Authority has refused to take into account Schibsted's professed intention to sell its shares in regional newspaper Adresseavisa to reduce its share of the country's newspaper market. Media professor Helge Östby has suggested Schibsted reduce its stake in the proposed media group, Media Norway, from 50,1 to 49,9 per cent, but Tinius Nagell-Erichsen, whose trust holds the controlling stake in Schibsted, has vehmently denied this is an option.
As regular readers of this blog might remember, Birger Magnus, Schibsted's executive vice president in Norway, has previously stated that he fully understands Norwegian media's concern about foreign owners, but that it is beyond him why they should obsess about how many per cent Schibsted ends up controlling in Media Norway. Last time I checked, the majority of Schibsted's shareholders were ... eh... foreigners, but surely, as long as the Norwegians get run the show, that is besides the point – or maybe there's foreigners and then there's foreigners?