Multinational free newspaper group Metro International, has entered the Russian market via a franchise agreement with the publisher of St Petersburg giveaway, Mempo.

Mempo is distributed via the city's subway system and at key above-ground locations. With a current daily circulation of 884,000, the freebie started life in 1997as a weekly title, moving up to daily frequency in 2004.

Under the terms of the deal, Luxembourg-headquartered (but Swedish-owned) Metro has acquired the trademark 'Mempo' within Russia; likewise the locally registered name 'Metro'. It also has a future option to acquire a 51% stake in the St Pete publisher.

Mempo will continue to appear on franchise basis under its original title, paying a royalty to Metro. The latter now publishes more than fifty Metro editions in 20 nations across Europe, North & South America and Asia.

Says Metro ceo Pelle Törnberg: "The expansion into Russia builds our already strong and successful presence in the eastern European markets of Poland, Czech Republic and Hungary. The agreement with Mempo provides us with a perfect opportunity to enter Russia and we intend to increase our investment over time."

Data sourced from; additional content by WARC staff