Shareholders from the Singapore Press Holdings (SPH) have voted in favor of restructuring the organization’s media business to classify as a not-for-profit.
SPH had been on a digital transformation journey as its print advertising business declined, but its efforts ultimately failed to pay off as opportunities were left untapped and its focus diverted elsewhere.
It decided to hive off its media business as it no longer boasts a profit after slipping into the red, despite the 28 million monthly unique visitors it claims across all its digital assets. It blamed its first-ever loss – down $11.4m for the financial year ending August 31, 2020 – on the Covid-19 pandemic and said if not for the Singapore government’s jobs support scheme and its thriving property business, the loss would have been $39.5m.
“I would like to thank all shareholders for their loyal support for this major restructuring of SPH. I would also like to express my deepest appreciation to the Media colleagues for their strong support and understanding. SPH Media now has a solid foundation to create a new future for journalism in Singapore,” said Dr. Lee Boon Yang, the chairman of SPH.
“When this restructuring is completed, I am confident that they will succeed in their mission to provide the best possible media service and content to their audience at home and abroad. I wish all at SPH Media every success as they embark on this exciting, meaningful, and rewarding new chapter.”
How did the shareholders vote?
More than 300 SPH shareholders voted by proxy at the Extraordinary General Meeting (“EGM”) held via electronic means. At the EGM, approximately 97.55% of the total number of voters were in favor of the resolution to approve the Proposed Restructuring.
Approximately 97.46% of the total number of voters were in favor of the resolution to approve the conversion of management shares to ordinary shares and the adoption of a new Constitution.
The Proposed Restructuring will involve the transfer of the media-related businesses of SPH including relevant subsidiaries, relevant employees, news centre, and print centre along with their respective leaseholds, as well as all related intellectual property and information technology assets to the CLG at completion, which is expected to be in December.
Khaw Boon Wan, the chairman-designate of SPH Media Trust said: “I welcome the SPH shareholders’ decisions, as the current business model is not sustainable. Delisting the media business is however only a first step, but a critical one. As a CLG, we will do our utmost to carry out the mission of providing quality journalism for Singaporeans.”
He added: “We want high-quality products which are relevant to our readers, to help them make sense of the world. There is much to do by the CLG to further secure SPH Media's future. But there will still be a transition period before the listed SPH hands over control to the CLG. I hope that the transition will not be too long so that we can start our work soon."