Sweden's second biggest exhibitor, Sandrew Metronome, has sold its cinema chain to rival SF Bio. The deal means that SF Bio, owned by Swedish media major Bonnier Group, will control 75% of the Swedish exhibition sector.

Sandrew Metronome currently manages 22 cinemas with 90 in 15 cities throughout Sweden. Last year, its annual turnover in Sweden was more than $26m (SEK 200m), while consolidated losses amounted to $3.1m (SEK 24m).

The management of the Shibstedt Group, owner of Sandrew Metronome, has been dissatisfied with Sandrew Metronome's weak profitability for a few years. "For us, this is the best move commercially and strategically," Morten Kongrod, CEO of Sandrew Metronome Group explains. "SF Bio has all the right qualifications."

The deal has to be approved by the state-run Swedish Competition Authority before it is ratified. Marita Ulvskog, Sweden's Minister of Culture, was unwilling to comment on the transaction before it was approved.

"But in general, monopolies are never good. It isn't good for the consumer and it isn't good for the multiplicity of choice," she said in a statement on Thursday afternoon.

For a few years, Marita Ulvskog has been fighting against the increasing concentration of power in the Swedish media industry.

In the future, Sandrew Metronome will focus on the distribution of feature films for cinema and video. The company will also keep running its cinemas in Denmark, Norway and Finland, as this transaction only involves its Swedish estate.

SF Bio manages 33 cinemas in 21 cities throughout Sweden, providing a total capacity of 209 screens. Its turnover was over $118 (SEK 900) last year.