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Sanoma Drops Most in Six Months on Dividend Cut: Helsinki Mover

Feb. 7 (Bloomberg) -- Sanoma Oyj, a Finnish publishing and broadcasting company, slid the most in six months after proposing the lowest dividend since 2003.

Sanoma fell as much as 7.4 percent, the sharpest drop since Aug. 8, and was down 7.1 percent at 10.65 euros at 1:58 p.m. in Helsinki. Sanoma, based in the Finnish capital, has lost 35 percent of its value in the last 12 months, compared with a 24 percent decline for the OMX Helsinki All-Share Index.

Sanoma proposed a payout of 0.60 euros a share, compared with 1.1 euros a share a year earlier, missing the 0.80 euros a share estimate by Bloomberg. The company forecast that full-year sales will grow “slightly,” mostly from the television and magazine properties acquired last year in the Netherlands and Belgium. Print advertising sales in Finland declined 4.9 percent in the quarter.

“The dividend has been a cornerstone of the Sanoma investment case,” said Mikael Doepel, a Helsinki-based analyst at Handelsbanken. “The cut was somewhat surprising” because the acquisition of ProSiebenSat.1 Media AG assets “was never supposed to come at the expense of dividends.”

The publisher of Finland’s biggest newspaper, Helsingin Sanomat, bought stakes in Dutch and Belgian broadcasting and print assets from Unterfoehring, Germany-based ProSieben last year. Sanoma financed the deal with debt and shared the acquisition with local partners.

Priorities for the next three years include “streamlining operating expenses and continuing to dispose of non-core assets” to “ensure financial flexibility,” Chief Executive Officer Harri-Pekka Kaukonen said in a statement.

To contact the reporter on this story: Kati Pohjanpalo in Helsinki at kpohjanpalo@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Tasneem Brogger at tbrogger@bloomberg.net

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