Subscription audiobook and e-book streaming service Storytel has bought Sweden’s oldest publisher, Norstedts Förlagsgrupp, for £12.5m from Swedish co-operative union and retail group KF (Kooperativa Förbundet).
The acquisition is the latest in a number of deals for Storytel in the company's bid to “speed up growth". Last month, it bought Danish e-book and audio streaming service Mofibo for £10m, and it also acquired Swedish publishers Massolit Förlag and B Wahlströms Bokförlag in 2015. The purchase of Norstedts has been financed by bank loan.
Norstedts publishes authors such as David Lagercrantz, author of the sequel to Stieg Larsson's Millennium trilogy The Girl in the Spider's Web, along with several Nobel Prize winners, such as Mario Vargas Llosa and Jean-Marie Gustave Le Clézio. Its imprint Rabén & Sjögren, meanwhile, publishes some of Sweden’s most prominent children’s book authors, including Astrid Lindgren.
Norstedts has around 100 employees, as does Storytel. In 2015 Norstedts had a turnover of £35.8m (435m SEK), and turned a net profit of £3m (37m SEK). At year’s end the company had cash reserves of £5.87m (71.2m SEK).
Storytel c.e.o. Jonas Tellander called the acquisition “a dream come true”. He said: “This purchase merges Storytel’s cutting-edge tech skills with some of Sweden’s finest authors. Norstedts Förlagsgrupp publishers has a fantastic line-up of authors, including a wonderful backlist, and Storytel’s streaming service will now help many more people discover their stories.”
He added: “Norstedts has implemented enormous improvements during the past few years. I put great faith in its leadership, and indeed this deal is built upon their active support. Together we will continue to refine Norstedts’s business model.”
Otto Sjöberg, who was appointed c.e.o of the publishing group in 2014, said: “This acquisition makes us the largest player on new platforms, where we can continue to develop and distribute the best stories. This will be an exciting constellation of both tradition and innovation.”
KF acquired Norstedts in 1997, and Rabén & Sjögren in 1947. Tommy Ohlström, c.e.o. of KF, said: “KF has made it clear for quite some time that our goal is focusing on our central mission as a chain of supermarkets and department stores, and an important part of that process has been finding an appropriate new owner for Norstedts. It was clear to us that with Storytel’s love for literature and their exciting digital platform, it is just the new owner we’ve been looking for.”
Along with the purchase of Norstedts, Storytel also acquires Norstedt’s wholly owned subsidiaries Böckernas Klubb, Norstedts Kartor AB, Kartcentrum i Stockholm AB and Gammafon Barnmedia AB –– as well as ownership in the associated companies Barens Bokklubb AB, Pocketförlaget Sverige AB, Elib AB, Månadens Bok HB and Bookinfo Norden KB.