Singapore Press Holdings (SPH) on Tuesday (13 October) posted a net loss of S$83.7 million for the financial year of 2020, which ended on 31 August.

The net loss — the company’s first-ever — is in contrast with its net profit of S$213.2 million a year ago.

SPH has attributed its net loss to the severe disruption of all business segments by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Segments significantly hit include malls and purpose-built student accommodation assets, comprising non-cash fair value losses of S$232 million.

The valuation of its retail malls fell by S$196.5 million while that of its PBSA assets fell by S$31.9 million respectively.

SPH’s revenue from media advertising declined by a staggering 31.4 per cent, while its operating revenue for the year decreased by 9.8 per cent to S$865.7 million.

Revenue for the media business also shrank by 22.8 per cent to S$445.1 million, primarily due to a decrease of 32.9 per cent or S$99.1 million in newspaper print advertisement revenue, according to SPH.

SPH chief executive Ng Yat Chung said that the company’s “media business is badly affected by the collapse in advertising”.

“However, the 9.4 per cent growth in circulation numbers from the success of our news tablet digital product and higher readership is a bright spot. We are intensifying our digitalisation efforts to transform the news content business in response to evolving demands from our audience,” he said.

According to SPH, its circulation revenue for FY20 saw a 52.5 per cent increase in daily average newspaper digital sales of 130,598 copies.

The growth in news tablet subscriptions also partly compensated for the 12.6 per cent decline in print copies.

The company’s digital transformation efforts also saw the outcome of a 91 per cent growth in its news outlets’ overall digital audience from 23 June to 11 July.

Digital circulation also increased by 52.5 per cent in the financial year, said SPH.

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