Schibsted, the Norwegian media group, has swiftly withdrawn its minority investment in troubled Swedish media and entertainment company Viaplay.

The company acquired a 10.1% stake in crisis-hit Viaplay in September for NOK 380 million ($35.8 million), before the share price plunged. At the end of 2023, the shares were worth NOK 43 million.

Kristin Skogen Lund, Schibsted chief executive, has said: “After a thorough evaluation of the merits of our options, and given the anticipated change in our corporate structure, we have taken the decision to wind down and exit our investment in Viaplay.

“We knew from the start that this investment was risky …we still believe that an investment in the restructuring of Viaplay could have been interesting in the long run. However, given the timing with the intention from the trust to acquire our media business, it no longer makes sense for us to pursue this.”

Yesterday (February 7), Lund also announced she will step down from her role at Schibsted when the group is to be split in two.

French TV heavyweight Canal Plus and PPF Group, a European investment firm based in the Czech Republic, recently increased their respective stakes in beleaguered Viaplay and will own almost 60% of the business as part of a recapitalization.

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By GlobalData

At its peak, Viaplay operated in as many as 13 countries, including the US and the UK, but has now divested completely from many of these, consolidating its operations around Scandinavia.

In November, Viaplay completely divested from the UK, selling the business it had purchased from Premier Sports in 2022 back to its original owner at a loss.

The media group also announced it is shutting down its direct-to-consumer business in the US and Canada amid a company-wide drive to scale down operations.

The platform will shut down in Canada on February 28 and in the US on February 29, with Viaplay content to be disseminated through the company’s partners in each country via streaming services.

Viaplay had only begun operations in the US and Canada in February and March 2023 respectively, but the service was hit by severe financial difficulties throughout 2023.

In July, the company announced that it was laying off 25% of its total workforce, around 450 people, as part of a set of restructuring moves slated to cost around $4 million.

The financially beleaguered media company reported a third-quarter net loss of SEK693 million, with its share price reaching a new low of SEK4.68.