Santa gets new landlord as recession hits Lapland

Tue Mar 24, 2009 8:43am EDT
 
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HELSINKI (Reuters) - Pounded by the global recession and facing a sharp economic contraction in 2009, Finland said on Tuesday it would sell its stake in Santapark, home to Father Christmas, to local investors.

Finland said it would sell its 32 percent stake to Santa's Holding Oy, which will also buy shares in the Lapland-based park from the city of Rovaniemi and travel firm Lapin Matkailu Oy to take its stake to 56 percent.

A handful of Finnish investors own the remaining shares.

National broadcaster YLE said the new owners planned to slash sales and marketing costs at the park, which has struggled financially since opening in 1998, and raise annual sales to 2 million euros ($2.73 million) from 1.5 million.

Finland said earlier on Tuesday it expected a 5 percent drop in the economy this year, and a contraction of 1.4 percent in 2010, with growth expected to return only in 2011.

(Reporting by Brett Young, editing by Will Waterman)

($1=.7337 Euro)