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Egmont pays $350M for Norway's TV2

Denmark’s Egmont International Holdings has bought the half of Norwegian network TV2 it didn’t already own for US$350M.

As reported by C21 Media, Egmont has paid partner A-pressen US$350.5M in cash for the latter’s 50 percent stake in the commercial channel, bringing it completely under the Scandinavian publishing and entertainment giant’s control.

Egmont founded TV2 in 1991 along with Vital Forsikring and Schibsted and increased its holding from 33 percent to 50 percent in 2006. It now has 100 percent for the first time, a significant step into the TV market for a company best known as a European magazine publisher. It also owns production giant Nordisk Film.

TV2 is home to local formats of programs such as The Voice, Pop Idol and Got Talent and holds rights to a number of sought-after output deals from US entertainment firms.

”As co-founder and part-owner through more than 20 years, Egmont has always been concerned with the long-term development of TV2. As TV is a key element in our strategy, it was an obvious choice for us to purchase,” said Egmont CEO Steffen Kragh.

“Today, Egmont makes a significant strategic leap towards more TV and more live pictures in our business,” he added.

A-pressen CEO Thor Gjermund Eriksen said:  ”As we now sell our part of TV2, we are content to sell to a company that has a comprehensive knowledge of TV2, and that has shown over the years that they are a solid and long-term co-owner, who respects editorial freedom and publicistic principles.”

Following the acquisition, TV2 moved quickly to dispel notions it could seek to change the channel’s public facing broadcast remit and “guaranteed” it would remain independent.

Channel chairman and Egmont chief financial officer Hans J Carstensen said the publisher would “support all the big focus areas and investments in TV2” and committed to local Norwegian management.

The acquisition will not trigger a reorganization “in itself,” he added, and the network’s editor-in-chief and MD Alf Hildrum will remain in his role. “As owners, we are 100 percent behind TV2’s agreement with the Norwegian state, which means that TV2 is a public service media house with its head office in Bergen,” said Carstensen.

Egmont claimed TV2, which is Norway’s largest commercial network and also houses a stable of smaller niche networks, had experienced its most profitable year ever in 2011.

Norwegian telecoms operator Telenor and the Norwegian Confederation of Trade Unions own the outgoing A-Pressen, which houses a number of local television channels, as well as newspapers and radio stations.