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Oct. 29, 2013, 8:30 p.m.
LINK: www.inma.org  ➚   |   Posted by: Joshua Benton   |   October 29, 2013

That’s the frame of this piece by ex-Schibsteder Tor Bøe-Lillegraven at INMA. Two giants of European media, Schibsted and Axel Springer, have been making big moves lately selling off journalism assets — some of which Ken Doctor got into for us earlier this month.

The Schibsted and Axel Springer sales are simply sound business decisions, part of a long-term strategy to diversify their investment portfolios. But the sales could also signal a gradual shift away from journalism…

For years, Axel Springer has set the industry standards for operational excellence, and the group is known worldwide for running tight and efficient print operations. But there are limits to how long a newspaper company can sustain profits by reducing operating costs and consolidating operations.

As is the case with Schibsted, Axel Springer’s digital transformation could also signal a shift away from journalism: Spiegel reports that in 2012, about two-thirds of Axel Springer’s digital revenues — some €787 million — came from non-media products…

Bottom line: Newspaper equities may still be solid, but the wise investor knows not to keep too many eggs in one basket.

Also note the comment from INMA honcho Earl Wilkinson in which he seems to favor a diversifying-the-portfolio explanation over a getting-out-of-journalism one.

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