SPH salvages media business by going non-profit

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Paul Howell
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Singapore Press Holdings' media business bled red in the last financial year.

Singapore Press Holdings Limited (SPH) announced that it will transfer its media business to a not-for-profit entity.

In a bourse disclosure, the company announced that its relevant subsidiaries, employees, News Centre, Print Centre, their respective leaseholders, and all
related intellectual property and information technology assets would be incorporated to SPH Media Holdings Pte Ltd (SPH Media), a wholly-owned subsidiary.

SPH Media, which SPH will provide with $80m in cash funds and $30m worth of SPH shares and SPH REIT units, will then be transferred to a not-for-profit entity.

The move is due to SPH's media business falling into the red in the past five years, due to a decline in print advertising and print subscription revenue.

It was hit hardest in the last financial year ending in August 2020, recording a first-ever loss of $11.4m. SPH added that if it wasn't for the government's Job Support Scheme, it would have fallen further to $39.5m.

Despite digital circulation surpassing print circulation, revenue from digital subscription and advertising have not been able to offset the losses from print advertising and circulation.

SPH has already approached the Ministry of Communications on their restructuring proposal to put the media business on a long-term sustainable financial footing.

"With the resources that SPH is providing upfront and the prospects for public-private partnership funding going forward, we anticipate that SPH Media will have a more sustainable financial future. It will have the resources to focus on transformation efforts and quality journalism, as well as to invest in talent and new technology to strengthen its digital capabilities," said SPH Chairman Lee Boon Yang.