2001 Preliminary annual result, Published 28/02/2002 16:39:28

At the Board meeting today, the Board of Directors of Schibsted ASA approved the consolidated preliminary Annual Statements for 2001. Please find enclosed the key figures for 2001.

Financial situation

Schibsted’s operating revenues in 2001 amounted to NOK 7,972 million, a reduction of just under 4% compared to 2000. Operating revenues for the final quarter amounted to NOK 2,077, a reduction of 11% compared to the same period in 2000. This reduction can primarily be explained by a continued weak advertising market during the final quarter. The Group’s quarterly operating profit before goodwill and other revenues and expenses was reduced from NOK 154 million in 2000 to NOK 17 million in 2001. The annual operating profit before goodwill and other revenues and expenses ended at NOK 272 million, which is a reduction of NOK 241 million compared to 2000. Aftenposten was responsible for the most substantial negative change, with its operating profit before goodwill and other revenues and expenses in 2001 amounting to NOK 39 million, compared to NOK 144 million in 2000. The employment market is still responsible for this reduction in profits at Aftenposten.

Other revenues and expenses in 2001 consist mainly of identified expenses relating to the Productivity and Profitability Program, which has been implemented. Other income and expenses for 2001 show a net deficit of NOK 131 million. Other expenses constitute of NOK 147 million, of which NOK 55 million relate to staff reductions, NOK 34 million to write-down of fixed assets and NOK 58 million to provisions for other expenditure. Other revenues, amounting to NOK 16 million, are primarily related to SPP pension plan in Sweden, under which excess plan assets have been repaid. NOK 23 million was charged to expense for the write-down of goodwill.

Net financial items for the quarter show a deficit of NOK 46 million, compared to a deficit of NOK 60 million in 2000, and this is partly attributable to the fact that write-down of shares is reduced from NOK 47 million to NOK 24 million. Net financial items for the year show a deficit of NOK 105 million, compared to NOK 31 million in 2000, mainly due to a reduction in profits from sale of shares (NOK 192 million in 2000; NOK 24 million in 2001).

Income from associated companies for the final quarter amounted to NOK -40 million, which is an improvement of NOK 36 million compared to the final quarter of 2000. The sale of shares in Scandinavia Online AB to Eniro AB has been completed. Settlement for the sale, totalling NOK 153 million, was received on December 19th, 2001. The bottom line profit from the sale was NOK 6 million.

Loss before taxes in the fourth quarter amounted to NOK 105 million and net loss for the quarter amounted to NOK 58 million, compared to profits of NOK 15 million and NOK 13 million respectively for the same period in 2000. Loss before taxes for the year amounted to NOK 387 million compared to a profit of NOK 950 million in 2000. Taxes for 2001 amounted to NOK 36 million. The sale of Scandinavia Online resulted in net tax revenues for the final quarter of 2001. Schibsted’s earnings per share amounted to NOK -6.28 in 2001, compared to NOK 8.78 in 2000.

The cash flow from operations amounted to NOK 374 million for 2001, compared to NOK 1,049 million in 2000. Operating investments in 2001 amounted to NOK 387 million, while investments in shares amounted to NOK 239 million. Net interest-bearing debt increased to NOK 1,396 million from NOK 1,168 million at the beginning of the year. Total liquidity reserves amount to approx. NOK 2 billion as of 31.12.01. The Group’s equity ratio has been reduced to 32% as of 31.12.01. Dividend payments of NOK 2 per share will be proposed, i.e. the same as the dividends for 2000.

Future prospects

VG and Aftonbladet are expected to retain their clear, respective leading positions on the Norwegian and Swedish single copy markets in 2002. Aftenposten and Svenska Dagbladet are also able to see positive signs concerning the circulation developments at the beginning of the year. The Group’s TV, film and publishing companies are expected to achieve stable and positive developments. The poor Swedish advertising market in respect of newspapers and the general decline in Internet advertising will probably continue throughout much of 2002. The Norwegian advertising market and the classified ads market in particular are also expected to continue to be weak in 2002, even though property advertising has commenced the year in a strong position.

The Group will engage vigorously in combating the weak market situation. The previously announced Productivity and Profitability Program has now been implemented and is designed to promote a substantial improvement in profitability in 2002. Focus will be retained on the Group’s core activities and on improving its cash flow situation. Further improvement measures will be considered on an ongoing basis.

Schibsted’s accounts on Internet

Please note that the annual results and the presentation will be available on:

·Schibsted’s web site: http://www.schibsted.no/ir_eng/

·HUGIN Online: http://www.huginonline.no/SCH

4th quarter report