SPH in good shape to ride out recession - Dec 05, 2008 (BT)

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The Straits Times / The Business Times News On SPH

SPH in good shape to ride out recession

Media giant will review its operations and introduce additional cost-management measures. -myp

Dec 05, 2008

THE recession will have an impact on the business of Singapore Press Holdings (SPH), but it is in good shape to ride out the economic downturn, said company chairman Tony Tan.

The media giant has, since early this year, taken measures to cope with the adverse conditions.

It has slowed down new hires and implemented a pay freeze for all senior managers.

Additionally, SPH has tightened its operations and strengthened its financial resources, said Dr Tan at its annual general meeting yesterday.

The company publishes 17 newspapers, including The Straits Times - Singapore's largest English daily - and more than 110 magazines.

Its newspaper and magazine business continued to bring in the bulk of its profits, despite the gloomy forecasts for the newspaper industry worldwide, said Dr Tan at the AGM held at the News Centre in Toa Payoh North. Group revenue in the last financial year exceeded $1.3 billion, which is a record high. SPH's operating profit grew 17.5 per cent to $502 million. However, net profits fell by 12.4 per cent to $437 million, due mainly to lower investment income and an investment-related impairment charge.

Noting that the outlook for next year will continue to be on the decline, Dr Tan said: 'This is a multi-sector, global phenomenon - quite unlike anything we have seen since the 1930s.

'With its global linkages and open economy, Singapore will be buffeted by the global economic storms.'

Moving ahead, SPH will review its operations further and introduce additional cost-management measures. But it will help its employees keep their jobs, said Dr Tan. He assured shareholders that SPH will continue to build up its businesses and products, as well as manage its 'resources conservatively and be on the lookout for the appropriate business opportunities'.

SPH has launched new products such as The Straits Times RazorTV, bilingual news and entertainment Web portal omy, and search-and-directory engine Rednano, in an effort to stay ahead in the digital-media space. Other diversifications for long-term growth include being part of the OpenNet consortium, which won the bid to build Singapore's next-generation broadband network.

Said Dr Tan: 'Barring unforeseen circumstances, we expect to turn in a satisfactory performance overall in 2009.'

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