SanomaWSOY's newspaper and business information sector, Sanoma Corporation, has signed a letter of intent to acquire the Finnish- and Estonian-based activities of Infosto Oy, in which Sanoma has had a 35% holding since 1998. The transaction is valued at some FIM 165 million and the intention is to close the deal in January 2001.

The vendor is Infosto Oy's majority owner, Infosto Research & Development Oy Ltd., which has a 65% holding and is owned by Ari Ahola.

Infosto is Finland's leading developer of electronic marketplaces and associated services and software. The company's Finnish-based publications (Infosto Mediat Oy) generated net sales in 1999 totalling FIM 72 million, and the company employs some 130 people in Tampere and Helsinki. The company's main product, Keltainen Pörssi, a free ad publication, has 80% of the Finnish market; the print edition has over 300,000 readers, and its online edition over 600,000 registered users.

The parties have agreed that Infosto's activities outside Finland, with the exception of Kuldne Börs in Estonia, will be transferred to Ari Ahola. It has also been agreed that Sanoma will have an option to buy the shares in eFruit International Inc., an Internet-based food marketplace, to be transferred to Ahola, in the event that eFruit's ownership base is expanded at a later date.

"The deal offers SanomaWSOY growth potential in a strategically interesting area and a number of e-commerce opportunities. It will also bring synergy benefits in areas such systems and content," says SanomaWSOY's President & CEO, Jaakko Rauramo.

"Infosto's online activities will be an excellent complement to our own, such as Helsingin Sanomat's Oikotie online classified advertisements and SWelcom's 2ndhead mobile portal and Virtual Portal. Infosto's print products, particularly Keltainen Pörssi, turn in a good profit and will complement Sanoma's print classifieds. The Infosto acquisition also makes a good fit with Rautakirja's kiosk and press distribution logistics."