According to President and CEO of Sanoma Corporation, Harri-Pekka Kaukonen, the sacking is due to a lack of confidence between Pentikäinen and the board and management of the Corporation, which owns the daily. Kaukonen would not, however, comment on reasons behind the lack of confidence.
In an open letter commenting on his departure, Pentikäinen says that he has the confidence both of the readers and editorial staff of Helsingin Sanomat. He does not, however, mention the paper's publisher.
Pentikäinen’s departure from Helsingin Sanomat comes as a surprise; the termination of his post coincides with the day of the official Sanoma Corporation announcement.
Riikka Venäläinen, 42, is returning from parental leave to take over the position temporarily, until a permanent successor for Pentikäinen has been chosen. In order to secure the next Senior Editor-in-Chief, Sanoma will be looking for candidates from both inside and outside the company.
HS circulation down
Pentikäinen started his term at the helm of the daily in 2010. Before this he was CEO of Sanoma News, the parent company of the newspaper.
The circulation of Helsingin Sanomat dropped dramatically by 45,000 copies while Pentikäinen led the daily. The circulation includes both orders as well as newsstand copies of the newspaper.
When Pentikäinen started off as Senior Editor-in-Chief in 2010, Helsingin Sanomat had a circulation of 383,361. By last year this had dropped to 337,962.
Turbulent times for Sanoma
Pentikäinen is the third recent Sanoma Corporation chief to step down. In mid-May, Sanoma Magazines Finland CEO Clarisse Berggårdh left her post. At the same time Dick Molman, CEO of Sanoma Media Netherlands, resigned.
The Corporation reported losses of 40.2 million euros in the first quarter of the year, compared with profits of 15.6 million euros the same time in the previous year.
In a release this March, Sanoma blamed advertising market difficulties for the negative result. It also said that price hikes and digital products had not managed to fully compensate for dwindling newspaper circulation.