Mergers, cuts in SPH review

Mergers, cuts in SPH review

A merger of two newspapers, an integrated sales team and staff cuts headline a raft of changes at Singapore Press Holdings following a five-month review.

The changes come as net profit drops 17.5 per cent to $265.3 million. Earnings are down 13.7 per cent, affected by a drop of 9.2 points in ad revenue.

The good news shared at the company’s annual results was a $10.6 million (4.6%) hike in earnings for its property division.

Chief executive Alan Chan said market conditions would remain difficult because of digital disruption to publishing. “We have done a comprehensive business review to strengthen our position in a tough economic and media environment,” he said.

“We will continue to innovate and invest in our media products. At the same time, we will grow our business adjacencies to diversify revenue streams and maximise stakeholder value.”

Sales teams for print, digital, radio and out-of-home have been rolled into one and the marketing division also operates across the business – a parallel to similar decisions by Seven West Media in Perth and NZME in Auckland.

Free bilingual masthead My Paper and The New Paper will merged and operate under the latter’s title. It will be a 300,000 circulation, free paper, having distribution and dropping a 70c price.

Warren Fernandez, editor-in-chief of the English/Malay/Tamil Media group, said the merger was “a bold decision to serve our readers with a strong product and with revamped content”.

Staff across the group will also be cut 10 per cent through a combination of attrition, retirement, non-renewal of contracts, outplacements and retrenchment.

Total costs have declined at SPH for the third consecutive year. Operating expenditure fell $22.6 million or 2.7 per cent for the year ending August 31, excluding impairment charges. This was largely offset by higher impairment charges during the year.

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