SPH undergoes strategic review following recent revenue dip in media biz

Singapore Press Holdings (SPH) is undergoing a strategic review to consider options for its various businesses. The objective of the review, according to SPH, to unlock and maximise long-term shareholder value. It also comes as its board of directors said SPH "remains undervalued", while its media business continues to face a challenging operating environment and outlook. SPH declined to comment on MARKETING-INTERACTIVE's queries on which businesses it will be reviewing. It added in a statement that there is no assurance that the review will result in any transaction or binding agreement. 

This review comes less than a year after SPH restructured its media sales and magazines operations, laying off 5% of its overall media group’s headcount. Additionally, the media company ceased publication for Cleo, Young Parent and Shape and also exited its magazine business in Malaysia. This, SPH said, was part of its media transformation roadmap and to address the impact of COVID-19 on its advertising revenue. 

In its financial report for the first half of its 2021 financial year ended 28 February 2021, SPH CEO Ng Yat Chung said despite expanding its audience reach, the company's media business continues to be affected by the structural decline in advertising and the impact of COVID-19. He added that SPH will continue its digital transformation strategy and efforts to place media on a more sustainable footing. As of 28 February 2021, SPH's overall total revenue dropped SG$20.0 million or 4.2% to SG$460.3 million with decline in operating revenue from its media business.

Its revenue for the media business fell 23.9% or SG$60.8 million to SG$193.1 million. The structural decline in the advertising sector had led to a 27.9% or SG$46.5 million decrease in media advertisement revenue, with newspaper print advertisement revenue falling by 28.8% or SG$36.3 million. Advertising was affected across most sectors with the exception of government spending, SPH added. Circulation revenue also decreased by 4.7% or SG$3 million as daily average newspaper print sales fell by 16%. This was mitigated by strong digital circulation growth with a 20.2% increase in daily average newspaper digital sales of around 70,000 copies. 

Meanwhile, its non-media business segments have improved as the economy gradually recovers, Ng said. Revenue for its retail and commercial segment rose 4.4% to SG$154.6 million despite the COVID-19 impact., while revenue for its Purpose Built Student Accommodation segment grew by 24.2% to SG$35.3 million. Overall, for the financial half-year that ended 28 February 2021, SPH reported an increase in operating profit of 16.6% to SG$119.8 million and a net profit increase of 26.1% to SG$97.9 million.

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