”Our first half of the year was strong in all aspects. Net sales grew and earnings improved as a result of both acquisitions and organic growth both in Learning and Media Finland. In Learning, we had 5% organic growth and this was in particular strong in countries where a curriculum renewal or a transformation to subscription model is ongoing, i.e. the Netherlands and Poland. We are also very satisfied with the performance of Santillana, which has met our expectations and the integration is proceeding steadily according to our plans. The team in Spain is well-prepared not only for the third quarter high season of this year, but even more importantly for the upcoming education renewal in 2022–2023. With the acquisition of Santillana, the annual seasonality has become even stronger in Learning, as the business in Spain is even more focused on the third quarter than in our other operating countries. Across our learning business, we have continued to support remote learning and teaching with our digital tools and do not expect any major impact on the business due to the pandemic.

Media Finland continued its solid performance during the second quarter. Subscription sales continued to grow driven by the daily newspaper Helsingin Sanomat (HS) and the VOD service Ruutu+. At HS, the number of subscriptions grew by 3% year-on-year. B2B advertising sales bounced back substantially compared to the second quarter of 2020 which was strongly impacted by the coronavirus pandemic. The most relevant comparison being against 2019, H1 2021 advertising sales were 6% lower than H1 2019. Visibility into the B2B demand continues to be very short-term only, though we expect the overall demand to be more weighted on the second half of the year, if the coronavirus pandemic continues to subside. The regional news media business has been part of Sanoma for more than a year now. The teams and operations are well integrated and we can see the synergy benefits in earnings. Despite its quite small size, our events business has been a hot topic this year. During this summer season 2021, we will be organising eleven events between midsummer and the end of July, most of them with significant restrictions related to the number of attendees."

"During the second quarter, we took several steps to implement our recently launched Sustainability Strategy. In May, we committed to the UN Global Compact as a signatory and in June to the Science Based Target initiative to align and reinforce our climate target of net-zero emissions across the value chain by 2030. We also presented the full strategy to the investors and analysts in our virtual Sustainability Day in June. Presentations and recording of the event are available at www.sanoma.com/en/investors.  

Our leverage increased due to the Santillana acquisition and was at its typical seasonal peak slightly above the long-term target of ‘below 3.0’. With the seasonality of our business and financial performance, we will be returning to our target level again during the second half of the year. Overall we have come through the coronavirus pandemic in a good way both in Learning and especially in the Finnish media business, which has proven to be nicely resilient due to its already large share of consumer and subscription-based income. We have not changed our long-term financial targets and have progressed well in our strategic transformation during the past 18 months. I want to thank our teams in all the different businesses for their perseverance throughout the pandemic and their continued customer focus while working under challenging circumstances. We have a solid financial position and the ability to create a good cash flow, and our aim is to continue to grow our businesses organically, and especially our K12 learning business also through M&A.”