Message from the CEO
For Schibsted, 2021 was an extraordinary year, both financially and strategically. Our financial results were record high and we delivered both strong growth and profitability. Revenues exceeded the previous year’s by 11 percent* and EBITDA increased by 29 percent. In terms of strategic results, Schibsted broke new ground in all of our business areas, consolidating the Nordic classifieds market, introducing new and successful media products, and adding new and exciting ventures to the company.
On top of our financial and strategic results, we have delivered on our ambition of empowering people and working towards a society built on trust and transparency. The horrific war in Ukraine serves as a reminder of the importance of news media in general, and of the objective, faithful and oftentimes dangerous reporting that our media brands provide.
Moreover, Schibsted’s brands and businesses empower people in a number of ways. In the last quarter alone, we piloted a fully transactional user experience in Finn Torget that will make circular consumption easier for everyone. Finn has launched a new product offering in real estate aimed at improving the user experience for buyers, sellers and agents alike. We saw PodMe grow more than expected, and we invested in quality podcast content in Sweden and Finland. Moreover, we reached millions of readers every day with quality journalism from all our media houses, covering life and politics during the COVID-19 pandemic, uncovering the benefits politicians give themselves, investigating the linkages between over-the-counter drugs and violence, and even inspiring the biggest documentary hit on Netflix, as VG did with its investigations into the “Tinder Swindler”. We introduced a really exciting machine learning project in Aftonbladet to optimize the number of newspapers to print and distribute so as to avoid selling out and to minimize waste. Moreover, we invested in new companies that both contribute to our total reach and share our values and principles. Through Helthjem, we delivered 3.6 million parcels in Q4, making everyday life just a little bit more convenient 3.6 million times. On top of that, we were named the most attractive workplace in the industry in Norway, and are seeing good traction in talent acquisition despite fierce competition.
I say all this because this is where we can see Schibsted’s true impact on society; the way we empower all groups of stakeholders every day, from consumers and customers to employees and partners, owners, society and the planet. Our impact is amplified when more people find our products and services valuable and make them part of their lives in ways that change how they act, consume, and understand the world. Our record financial results and milestone strategic achievements in 2021 have set us up for amplifying that impact further.
On 25 June, Adevinta finally completed the acquisition of eBay Classifieds Group. As a result of the transaction, Schibsted is a strong financial owner in Adevinta with an ownership share of 33 percent. The value of the retained interest, combined with the value of the shares distributed to shareholders at the time of the spin-off, is a strong sign of the significant value creation to shareholders coming out of Schibsted’s long-term strategic focus on shaping the global online classifieds industry.
We built Adevinta over a long period of time, and we base our assessment of its value to us on the company’s long-term growth, market position and profitability. We remain a committed owner focusing on shareholder value, and are confident that Adevinta is well positioned as the largest pure-play classifieds business in the Western world.
The sector that Schibsted and Adevinta is part of is out of favor in the financial markets right now, resulting in quite a substantial negative impact on our share price development since mid 2021. This does not change the industrial dynamics or business development in which our portfolio of companies is involved. In sum, Schibsted has a solid foundation with a strong potential fo further growth and value creation, and will seek to realize that potential in light of current and future market conditions.
Finally, in light of Ole Jacob Sunde’s decision to step down as Chairman of the Board, I want to thank Ole Jacob for his significance and contributions towards Schibsted’s development and success through more than 20 years. As Chairman, Ole Jacob has shown a stewardship that has helped steer Schibsted safely and successfully through vast transitions both in terms of technology, business and world events. Ole Jacob hands over a company that is many times stronger, more diverse and better positioned than it was when he took over as Chair. He has been a great inspiration and a steady coach for all of us who have had the privilege to work with him.
Kristin Skogen Lund
CEO of Schibsted
* On a foreign exchange neutral basis and including pro-forma revenues for Oikotie and Denmark before Schibsted ownership.