Torstar Corp., the parent company of the Toronto Star, has boosted its interest in Metro, the free newspaper chain that publishes in cities across Canada.

Torstar announced Friday it has paid $51.5 million to increase its stake to 90 per cent in Free Daily News Group, which publishes Metro in Toronto, Vancouver, Ottawa, Calgary, Edmonton, Winnipeg and London, Ont. Under a separate joint venture with Transcontinental Media G.P., it also publishes in Hali­fax.

“We see this as a terrific opportunity to continue to build this growing, national franchise,” said Torstar president and CEO David Holland in an interview. “For the past decade, it’s been a strong medium, attractive to both readers and advertisers. We think that will continue.”

Holland added the Metro papers, which have a combined daily readership of more than 1 million, complement the rest of Torstar’s media assets including Star Media Group, Metroland and other digital properties.

 

“This is exciting news,” said Bill McDonald, president of Metro English Canada. “Metro has carved out a significant space in the national media landscape, and through the enhanced support of Torstar, our majority shareholder, we’re looking forward to even greater growth.”

According to the most recent NADbank figures for fall 2010 and spring 2011, the read yesterday readership among adults in the Greater Toronto area was 966,000 for the Toronto Star and 495,000 for the Toronto edition of Metro.

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