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Schibsted, Sandrews set sights on exhib venture

AMSTERDAM — Norwegian media powerhouse Schibsted and Swedish exhibition, distribution and film company Sandrews are in talks over a possible cinema alliance in Denmark.

Jan-Erik Knarbakk, director of Schibsted Film/TV, told Daily Variety the talks centered on what Schibsted should do with its 50% stake in Warner Metronome’s two multiplexes in Denmark. Schibsted and Danish telecommunications giant Tele Danmark acquired the shares as part of their mid-November $30 million buyout of Metronome’s media holdings.

Said Knarbakk, “Schibsted does not know anything about running a movie theater and Sandrews does. We’re looking for a partner to help us run the cinemas and as Schibsted and Sandrews have worked quite well together for more than six years, there’s no reason why Sandrews couldn’t be that partner.”

The two companies have been partners in Sandrews Metronome, a rights-buying alliance in which Metronome also owned a 25% stake. Sandrews and Schibsted now have equal shares of the joint venture.

Knarbakk said he expected no change in Warner’s 50% ownership of the 12-screen theater chain. He added the talks with Sandrews were at a “very early stage” but he didn’t rule out a complete sale of Schibsted’s 50% stake in Warner Metronome to Sandrews.

Sandrews is the second-largest exhibitor in Sweden, but has more than 40% of the market in Sweden’s biggest cities, Stockholm, Malmo and Gothenberg. Under the Metronome takeover, Schibsted is handling Metronome’s multiplexes and much of its other film and TV activity, while Tele Danmark takes over Metronome’s video distribution and handles rights for Danish music and film.

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