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SPH undergoing strategic review 'to consider options for its various businesses'

SPH undergoing strategic review 'to consider options for its various businesses'

Singapore Press Holdings (SPH) logo. (Photo: AFP/Roslan Rahman)

SINGAPORE: Singapore Press Holdings (SPH) announced on Tuesday (Mar 30) it is undergoing a strategic review "to consider options for its various businesses", as it posted a 26 per cent growth in first-half net profit.

"While SPH’s media business continues to face a challenging operating environment and outlook, the board of directors believes that SPH remains undervalued and the objective of the strategic review is to unlock and maximise long term shareholder value," it said in a stock exchange filing.

It said that there was no assurance that the review would result in any transaction, or that any definitive or binding agreement would be reached.

"SPH will, in compliance with applicable rules, make further announcements as appropriate," it said.

The announcement came as SPH posted a 26 per cent growth in first-half net profit, helped by its non-media businesses. Net profit rose to S$97.9 million in the six months ended Feb 28, compared with S$77.6 million in the same period a year ago.

"Despite expanding our audience reach, our media business continues to be affected by the structural decline in advertising and the impact of COVID-19," said Mr Ng Yat Chung, chief executive officer of SPH.

"We will continue our digital transformation strategy and efforts to place media on a more sustainable footing."

Advertising was affected across most sectors with the exception of government spending, the company said in a separate release.

Circulation revenue decreased 4.7 per cent as daily average newspaper print sales fell by 16 per cent, or 70,831 copies.

This was mitigated by a 20.2 per cent growth in digital circulation, with daily average newspaper digital sales of about 70,000 copies.

READ: SPH records first net loss of S$83.7 million for FY2020 as COVID-19 'severely disrupts' all business segments

SPH is organised into four major operating segments, namely media, retail and commercial, purpose-built student accommodation, and others.

Overall, total revenue in the first half fell 4.2 per cent to S$460.3 million, on the back of a 23.9 per cent decline in revenue from the media segment. Revenue for its others segment, which includes aged care, digital and exhibitions, also fell by 16.9 per cent.

Revenue for the purpose-built student accommodation segment rose 24.2 per cent, while its retail and commercial segment edged up 4.4 per cent.

It received grant income of S$15 million from the Jobs Support Scheme.

READ: About 140 employees from Singapore Press Holdings to be 'affected' by retrenchment exercise

Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, SPH has trimmed its headcount over the past year, shaving off 4.6 per cent, or S$7.7 million, in staff costs during the reporting period.

Headcount as of end-Feb was 3,540, compared with 3,968 during the same period in 2020 and 4,069 in 2019, it said.

The board has declared an interim dividend rate of 3 cents per share.

Source: CNA/aj

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