Erling Kagge sells 70 percent of his shares in Kagge publishing house to Danish Politiken – exactly 25 years after he started the publishing house as a 33-year-old in 1996.
– I have been thinking about Kagge publishing house night and day for 25 years. I love my job, love my colleagues and love the writers. But lately, I’ve been thinking of ways to find truly unique content. It is a time for everything, says Erling Kagge to VG.
There are several reasons why he says:
– There has been a lot of pressure to be responsible for everything to work, for the publisher to develop, for jobs to be secured, for everyone to feel good. I feel this every day, and now I can imagine taking off that backpack, says Kagge.
JP / Politikens Forlag buys 70 percent of Kagge publishing house – and will thus also own 70 percent of JM Stenersen’s publishing house which was wholly owned by Kagge. Erling Kagge owned 98.3 percent of the publishing house – and will continue to own 30 percent of shares.
The purchase price is confidential, both Erling Kagge and Politikens Forlag director Lene Juul state to VG. But VG experiences that it is a question of high summer.
The operating profit of Kagge and JM Stenersen last year totaled approximately NOK 26 million. Kagge is also a solid company with 38 million kroner in equity – and with 113 million in turnover last year.
Such company prices often reach five or six times the ordinary operating profit. In that case, it will mean her price of NOK 130-150 million for Kagge and JM Stenersen. But as far as VG knows, it must be a question of a larger amount.
– Everything indicates that it is a question of more than 130-150 million?
– I can not comment on the numbers, says Erling Kagge to VG.
– I can only say that I am very happy.
Men Kagge priorities:
– I have no business relationship with that money anyway, and this is not going to change a trifle in my life. I’m still going to fly economy when I go to my girlfriend in London. My life is little related to consumption, shopping bores me.
The girlfriend is unnamed for the time being, it is also the many suitors who have been free to Kagge publishing over the years.
– It is probably a question of all the Norwegians you can think of, and several foreigners as well, have been to balls. But I have not reacted positively before Politiken knocked on the door. When I now sell, it’s about two things; money and journalistic considerations – and for me the latter is important. Therefore, I do not open for any bidding round.
– I would not end up with a buyer I does not would have as a buyer. It would be sad for everyone, says Erling Kagge to VG.
He said yes to JP / Politikens Forlag which is one of Denmark’s largest publishers with a long history. The publisher actually celebrates its 75th anniversary exactly today, October 1, while the media house that today owns Denmark’s three leading newspapers started in 1884.
– I have followed Politiken for a long time, and they have shown journalistic integrity both when it comes to the company and employees since its foundation. I am concerned about how things will go with the publisher, that we will give the best and most important books – and I am concerned that colleagues should be well. Politiken seems to be the perfect new owner for Kagge, and they have many ideas and ambitions for further growth.
Danish Egmont becomes sole owner of Cappelen Damm – paid one billion
Are the Swedes and Danes taking over the Norwegian book industry?
– I hope and believe that publishers such as Gyldendal and Aschehoug will remain Norwegian-owned. It is important for Norwegian cultural life and society in general with large Norwegian-owned institutions.
– But not for Kagge?
– I think it’s unproblematic. We do not move to Denmark, Denmark moves to us – and Norwegians only benefit from a little influence from the south. The politicians are very skilled, they are in another division, and I think it is good to get their culture and security back to Norway.
In 2016, JP / Politikens forlag entered the Swedish book market where they started the publisher Polaris. At the time, they said that Norway was not in the mind.
– Now it is the case that if Politikens Forlag is to grow more, then we can not grow much more in Denmark. Polaris has gone bra, but we had hoped for me. By going into Kagge and Norway, we get more muscle outwards as well. For example, we can buy large best-selling rights to three countries at the same time, and together we are also stronger in gaining rights internationally, says director Lene Juul in JP / Politikens Forlag to VG.
She is clearly in favor of Kagge continuing to be good at non-fiction, but is getting stronger at fiction.
– Politiken started as Kagge as a non-fiction publisher, but also invested with great success in fiction 15 years ago. Now we want to use our experience and financial strength together with the innovative and creative gang in Kagge to do the same here, says Juul who is very impressed with what Erling Kagge has achieved.
– Kagge publishing house has had a fantastic journey over 25 years – with growth year by year and a step-by-step development and some really strong years. We can share well, and for us the right thing is so big that just today – on the 75th anniversary of Politiken’s publishing house – we also get a Norwegian family, Juul says to VG.
When Erling Kagge started the publishing house on September 13, 1996, he was a 33-year-old adventurer, polar explorer and mountain climber who had just climbed Mount Everest. The publisher was initially called Familievennen forlag and established Norwegian publishers to light all the plugs, partly because Kagge wanted to sell books in regular shops as well.
Gyldendal director Geir Mork stated that Erling Kagge did not run a publishing house, but a pure business.
– I rarely think back, but I remember how incredibly whiny the publishers were. And that was the best thing that could happen to my publisher, because it gave a lot of free attention around the books we published, laughs Kagge.
– But I remember that mom (Aase Gjerdrum) who worked in Cappelen Damm, started crying because they talked so badly about me. She thought it was hard to have a son who climbed Mount Everest, but she found this more difficult.
He was very happy that he was “oppesen” in the late 90’s.
– I was probably quite big-nosed in the beginning, and also commented on the other publishers. I was very aggressive in 96 and 97. I quit after a few years. There will be neither better books nor better sales of focus on the competition.
VG meets Erling Kagge at a sidewalk café before the news of the sale is known, and he is affected.
– It’s sad. Of course, I’m not sorry, because I know I’m lucky. But there is a lot of emotion involved.
Do not think that Erling Kagge in a few years envisions a quiet retirement life – now with an extra thick wallet.
– No, I never intend to retire. My role model is Olav Thon when it comes to work effort. One must continue to stand on. This was also the advice our author Arne Næss gave to everyone who asked how to set up their lives: Stand up. I love that advice!
Now he must continue to stand on in Kagge until 2024.
– I will work too much as a publisher and board member until 2024. Then we will see where the hare jumps. I want to be more on the go, outdoor life are the three most beautiful words I know of – and I’ll have a better time writing. Then we can hope that I write such good books that I am accepted at Kagge publishing house.
– The rumors say that all authors must stand up to make it happen.