Torstar Corp., the parent company of the Toronto Star, has purchased virtually full control of Metro, the free weekday newspaper distributed in cities across Canada. Torstar announced the terms of the deal after markets closed Friday. It paid its partner Metro International SA of Sweden $51.5 million for 80% of its 50% share in the Free Daily News Group; Torstar now owns 90% of the business.
The Free Daily News Group publishes Metro in Toronto, Vancouver, Ottawa, Calgary, Edmonton, Winnipeg and London, Ont. It also publishes in Halifax in a joint venture with Transcontinental Media G.P. The combined daily readership of the chain is more than 1 million.
“We see this as a terrific opportunity to continue to build this growing, national franchise,” said Torstar president and CEO David Holland in an interview with the Star. “For the past decade, it's been a strong medium, attractive to both readers and advertisers. We think that will continue.”
He said the acquisition complements the rest of Torstar's media assets including Star Media Group, Metroland and other digital properties.
Lorenzo DeMarchi, Torstar's chief financial officer, said readership and advertising have increased steadily at Metro papers, and at $51.5 million, is a good investment.
“It's a reasonable price. It reflects the growth trajectory that the business has been on,” DeMarchi said. “Metro is a print medium that has shown strong growth. We continue to believe in print and Metro's a great example of that.”Most recent NADbank figures for fall 2010 and spring 2011, the "read yesterday" readership among adults in the Greater Toronto area was 966,000 for the Toronto Star and 495,000 for the Toronto edition of Metro.