”Sanoma’s performance was strong in the exceptional year of 2020. Our net sales grew driven by acquisitions, and our operational EBIT excl. PPA improved with margin being very close to the previous year’s level. Despite the exceptional circumstances throughout the whole year, we finalised four major transformational M&A transactions: the acquisitions of Santillana Spain and the regional news media business in Finland and the divestments of Sanoma Media Netherlands and the online classifieds business Oikotie in Finland. With this transformational year behind us, the learning business will contribute close to 70% of the Group’s operational earnings going forward.

The Group now consists of two focused and leading businesses in their own fields: a growing European K12 learning business and a leading cross-media business in Finland.

The full year net sales and earnings of Learning grew significantly, driven by acquisitions completed in 2019, in particular Iddink. In addition, we saw strong comparable growth of 5% driven by the curriculum renewals in Poland and in the Netherlands. As the share of the learning business in Sanoma’s total portfolio grows it becomes more determinant of the Group’s overall profitability, including the typical annual seasonality with loss-making first and fourth quarters. The lower margin businesses of Iddink and itslearning were part of Learning for the first full year and had an adverse impact on its operational EBIT margin. In addition, we saw the desired transformation from rented books to annually sold books in all of Iddink’s operating countries gathering speed. The annual margin of sold books is lower as all costs are booked at one go, whereas the costs of rented books are capitalised and depreciated over a longer period of time – the short-term impact of this was visible in Learning’s fourth quarter result.

At the end of December 2020, we completed the acquisition of Santillana Spain, the leading K12 learning material provider in Spain. We are very much looking forward to integrating the business together with the experienced and committed management team. In 2021, the Spanish learning material market is expected to decline ahead of the next curriculum renewal to be implemented in 2022–2023, which is expected to accelerate market growth significantly. In addition, the coronavirus pandemic impacted the Spanish learning market in 2020 and led to slightly lower sales. This trend might continue depending on the prolongation of lockdowns and school closures."

"I am particularly proud of how our whole team in Media Finland performed during this exceptional year. Our subscription sales continued to grow driven by the daily newspaper Helsingin Sanomat and our video-on-demand service Ruutu+. At the end of April, we finalised the acquisition of Alma Media’s regional news media business, which supports the longer-term growth of our subscription base. On the other hand, our advertising and events businesses were severely impacted by the coronavirus pandemic: no events were held during the year, whereas the advertising sales decreased strongly in April‒June, but recovered surprisingly well in the second half of the year. Media Finland’s operational EBIT excl. PPA and the corresponding margin were very close to the previous year’s levels, which is truly a great achievement in a year like this. Uncertainty and limited visibility related to the advertising markets and the events business are expected to continue into 2021.

In December 2020, we increased the long-term financial targets for Learning’s profitability to an ambitious level of ‘above 23%’ and the Group’s leverage to ‘below 3.0’. With the new leverage target, we have EUR 300 400 million headroom for further M&A, which we aim to use mainly to expand our European K12 learning business. The Group’s dividend policy remains the same, and the Board proposes to the AGM a dividend of EUR 0.52 per share. In 2021, we continue to work towards our strategic goal to further growing the learning business and strengthening our media business in its core areas: news & feature, entertainment and B2B marketing solutions. We will also focus on solid integration of both Santillana Spain and the regional news media business. Our outlook for the year is good, while the uncertainties related to the continuing coronavirus pandemic remain.

Sustainability is in the DNA of Sanoma. Our learning and media businesses have a positive impact on the lives of millions of people every day and our environmental footprint is small. We will further focus on our positive role in society through our updated Sustainability Programme, which highlights six themes: Inclusive learning, Sustainable media, Trustworthy data, Vital environment, Valued people, and Responsible business practices. We will provide more information on our 2020 sustainability performance and our targets for the coming years in March 2021.”