At Singapore Press Holdings (SPH)’s annual general meeting yesterday (27 Nov), SPH CEO Ng Yat Chung told shareholders that SPH would move forward by growing income from its property business.

“SPH is facing a challenging media landscape. We have not been spared from rapid changes disrupting the news media industry everywhere. Consumer habits are changing, and they are increasingly moving to digital media,” he said.

“As a result, our media business faced a steady decline in both print advertising and print subscription revenue. And these are traditionally our largest revenue and profit drivers. The Covid-19 pandemic this year has further exacerbated these challenges.”

He said that one of his strategies to move forward is to grow income from its property business.

SPH is also on track to become a sizeable owner-operator of purpose-built student accommodation, he added.

Besides property, Ng said that SPH will continue its media transformation efforts, “This involves investing in technological capabilities to rejuvenate, reinvent and re-position our product offerings.”

Ng gets $1.3m salary while company loses money

Earlier this month, it was reported that while SPH posted its first ever net loss of S$83.7 million for the year that ended on Aug 31, Ng continues to receive big salary and shares (‘SPH CEO receives more than $1.3m salary while company loses money‘).

In the last financial year, SPH’s revenue from media advertising declined by a staggering 31.4 per cent with revenue for the media business as a whole shrinking by 22.8 per cent.

Segments significantly hit even include its property business. SPH’s malls and purpose-built student accommodation (PBSA) assets were hit by 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.

Without the government grants of S$68.5 million through the Jobs Support Scheme, SPH’s net loss would have been even higher.

Not surprisingly, Ng attributed his company’s losses to COVID-19. “All our major business segments were severely disrupted by Covid-19. Our media business is badly affected by the collapse in advertising,” he said.

Despite losing money for the first time in the history of SPH, Ng was awarded with bonuses and shares. The latest SPH’s annual report shows that Ng received a total cash and benefits of $1,350,000 in the last FY. Other SPH staff were not so lucky and had to be laid off.

SPH removed from Straits Times Index

And to add insult to injury, SPH was removed as one of the constituents of the Straits Times Index (STI) — the benchmark index for the Singapore stock market — in Jun this year. The STI is made up of the top 30 stocks listed on SGX’s mainboard, ranked by market capitalization.

The administrator of STI, FTSE Russell, said that the removal of SPH was made after the quarterly review in Jun. It was removed on 22 Jun.

The removal of any constituent company from STI happens when its market value drops below the 40th position or a counter in the reserve list rises to the 20th position or above. This is according to ground rules of the STI, which were created by SPH and managed by FTSE Russell.

The STI is jointly calculated by FTSE Russell, SPH and SGX.


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