Telefonica’s latest asset sale makes for interesting reading

News of new asset sales from Telefonica seems to break pretty regularly and this week is no exception.

On Tuesday Swedish audio and e-book subscription service Nextory announced that it has acquired Spanish e-book service Nubico, which – prior to the takeover – was a 50:50 joint venture between Telefonica Espana and media outfit Grupo Planeta.

The parties have declined to disclose the value of the deal. Nextory said it has owned Nubico since 1 June.

The deal is unlikely to have been a huge money-spinner for Telefonica, which, as has been thoroughly documented, is on a mission to reduce debt in no small part through asset sales: this current quarter will see it hive €9 billion from net debt mainly due to its tower sales in Europe and Latin America, and the merger of O2 with Virgin Media in the UK. But the sale of Nubico, which doesn’t feature in the telco’s results presentations in its own right, is in a very different league.

It’s a big deal for Nextory though, which is working on an ambitious expansion plan. The Swedish company said the transaction is in line with its existing plans to launch services in Spain this year. Spain will be its ninth market when it formally launched before the end of December, the firm said. Buying Nubico will enable it to offer access to 300,000-plus e-books and audio books in Spain, as well as building strategic partnerships with Grupo Planeta, which has a lot of content at its disposal, and Telefonica. Essentially, the deal gives it a ready-made lexicon of Spanish language content that it would otherwise have had to build.

“With Nextory now handling the digital subscription service, Planeta’s will reach even wider audiences and new territories,” said Santos Palazzi, Head of Mass Market & Digital at Grupo Planeta, in a statement.

Following the Spain buy, Nextory will continue to expand internationally with the goal of one day becoming one of the largest players in the global book industry, explained Nextory founder and CEO Shadi Bitar. That’s a big ambition, particularly when you consider the scale of a certain US-based e-retailer that began as a bookseller.

“This deal really puts Nextory on the map globally,” Bitar said.

Nextory launched in Sweden in 2015 and has since expanded its offer to Finland, Denmark, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, the Netherlands and Norway. And now Spain. And with access to Spanish-language content, that surely opens up Latin America. Watch out, Mr Bezos…

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