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SPH divesting stakes in Mediacorp entities

Todaywill discontinue its print edition and become the first newspaper in Singapore to go fully digital. Its last print edition will go out at end-September.


SINGAPORE Press Holdings (SPH) is divesting its stakes in Mediacorp entities, it announced on Friday.

This decision follows Mediacorp's decision to cease its newspaper Today, making it fully digital.

The stakes - 20 per cent in Mediacorp TV Holdingsand 40 per cent in Mediacorp Press- will be sold for S$18 million and SPH expects to record a write down of approximately S$31 million in its books.

This follows an earlier-announced sale of online classifieds business 701Search, on which SPH is expected to recognise a profit of about $150 million.

An agreement was reached with Mediacorp on Friday for the latter to buy the stakes and the deal, expected to be completed at the end of September, is subject to regulatory approval.

Once completed, both entities will become wholly owned subsidiaries of Mediacorp. Mediacorp TV Holdings owns Channels 5, 8 and U and Mediacorp Studios; while Mediacorp Press operates the Today newspaper.

The deal comes 12 years after SPH bought the stakes as part of a media industry asset consolidation in 2005. During the consolidation, SPH transferred a TV channel to Mediacorp and took a 20 per cent stake in Mediacorp TV Holdings. It also merged its free newspaper Streats with Today, and invested in a 40 per cent stake of Mediacorp Press.

SPH executive director and CEO-Designate Ng Yat Chung said the proposed divestment will allow SPH to focus on its core media business.

"Free-to-air television is not core to SPH's business and the divestment of the stake in Today follows Mediacorp's decision to turn it into a fully digital product. This rationalisation will allow us to focus our energies on serving our audience and advertisers best through a suite of strong media products across the print, digital and radio platforms," he said.

As part of the deal announced on Friday, Mediacorp will also stop publishing any soft copy or computer-readable format of Today that has the look and feel of a hardcopy version of the newspaper, for a period of five years.

SPH has 17 newspaper titles which cater to different interests and needs.

Apart from its flagship dailies in four languages - The Straits Times, Lianhe Zaobao, Berita Harian and Tamil Murasu, SPH has freesheet The New Paper, business daily The Business Times, Chinese evening papers Shin Min Daily and Lianhe Wanbao, and student publications.

On an average day, 2.5 million individuals, or 59 per cent of people above 15 years old, read one of SPH's news publications in print copies or one of its digital platforms.

In a separate statement, Mediacorp announced that Todaywill discontinue its print edition and become the first newspaper in Singapore to be fully digital. Its last print edition will go out at end-September.

This means about 40 roles will be made redundant, Mediacorp said. It added that it will explore options to redeploy affected staff to other roles and where this is not possible, eligible staff will be offered severance packages and outplacement support.

SPH shares ended Friday down 2 Singapore cents at S$2.76.