Published 2020-03-24

Annual accounts 2019 approved whilst proposal for 2019 dividend has been cancelled

The Board of Directors and management of Schibsted ASA are taking measures to respond to the uncertain situation created by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Photo by NORTHFOLK on Unsplash

The Board has, in full agreement with management, decided to cancel its previously announced proposal to pay a dividend for 2019 of NOK 2.00 per share.

“Given the uncertainties introduced by the COVID-19 pandemic, it would be inappropriate to pay out the planned dividend. Therefore, the Board proposes to the Annual General Meeting 6 May 2020 to cancel the dividend for 2019,” Board Chair Ole Jacob Sunde says.

The Board of Directors of Schibsted ASA has approved the annual accounts for 2019. There are no changes compared to the preliminary annual accounts published 13 February 2020.

Over the last few weeks, it became clear that the COVID-19 pandemic and the measures to reduce the spread and health effects will have severe effects on society and the economy at large, in the Nordics and throughout the rest of the world. Schibsted is taking a range of measures in order to navigate through the current situation. The Group’s foremost priority is the health and safety of its employees and to act responsibly in society, while at the same time supporting its customers.

“I am proud and impressed to see that we are able to deliver a fully functional service for our users and customers across all our businesses even though around eight out of ten of our employees now work from home,” CEO Kristin Skogen Lund says.

“In a situation like this, it is of critical importance for society that our News Media destinations continue to function as balanced and reliable sources of information for the public. We have over the last weeks seen record high traffic on our news sites, as well as strong growth in digital subscriptions within News Media. At the same time, we see that many advertisers cancel or defer their marketing campaigns. Hence, we expect a significant weakening of the overall revenue trend for News Media towards the end of Q1, and we prepare for continued weakness in Q2 2020,” CEO Kristin Skogen Lund says.

Schibsted has also experienced reduced activity in the Nordic Marketplaces business in March.

“As both individuals and businesses have been focusing on managing the initial stage of the COVID-19 crisis, we see that the traffic and number of listings on our marketplaces in the Nordics has gone down. This will affect revenues in the short-term, as a large part of our revenues are directly related to the volume of listings,” CEO Kristin Skogen Lund says.

“For Lendo, the Swedish market, which is the most important driver, has seen a rather stable demand. Management is currently evaluating options to reduce the level of investments in the geographic expansion in light of the current crisis,“ CEO Kristin Skogen Lund says.

Management is following the development of the COVID-19 pandemic and its business implications closely and is considering various measures to mitigate the negative impact on our revenues and profitability. Management will come back with more detailed information on the revenue development and cost measures at the Q1 2020 presentation.

“Lastly, I want to highlight that we, in these turbulent and uncertain times, are highly committed to deliver on our social responsibility by providing trusted and independent journalism and to leverage our marketplaces and distribution services to alleviate the challenges the COVID-19 crises impose upon society,” says CEO Kristin Skogen Lund.

“Schibsted will continue to monitor and assess the situation as it evolves and is fully committed to applying all necessary actions in line with Governments’ and Health Authorities’ instructions and guidelines. At the same time, we will continue to focus on the long-term development and act on upcoming business opportunities,” says Board Chair Ole Jacob Sunde.