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SPH going into book publishing business - Sep 18, 2008 (ST)

BackSep 18, 2008

The Straits Times / The Business Times News On SPH

SPH going into book publishing business

Subsidiary STPress to take over contracts of publisher SNPIP.


Sep 18, 2008
The Straits Times

MEDIA giant Singapore Press Holdings (SPH) is setting up a new book publishing business, under its subsidiary Straits Times Press.

To jump-start its new venture, STPress has taken over the contracts and intellectual property rights of SNP International Publishing (SNPIP), the book publishing arm of SNP Corp.

The six-member editorial and design team from SNPIP, helmed by publishing veteran Shirley Hew, 59, and publishing manager Shova Loh, 57, will join the new subsidiary.

The transaction is not expected to have any material impact on the earnings per share or the net tangible assets per share of SPH for the financial year ending Aug 31 next year, an SPH statement said yesterday.

Mr Patrick Daniel, editor-in-chief of SPH's English and Malay Newspapers Division (EMND), who will chair the STPress board, said: 'We're delighted to get back into book publishing. It is a natural extension of our newspaper business. We have many excellent writers, photographers and artists, and a wealth of content waiting to be tapped. We're confident of the business potential in this sector.'

SPH quit the book publishing business in 1989 when it hived Times Publishing off as a separate listed company to focus on newspaper publishing.

Mr Daniel said the company will work closely with the more than 700 staff of EMND, in particular The Straits Times, the group's 163-year-old flagship newspaper with an average daily circulation of 388,500.

Straits Times editor Han Fook Kwang, pointing to the newspaper's 15 overseas bureaus and international award-winning editorial and design teams, said: 'Straits Times Press can be viewed as an extension of what SPH and The Straits Times offer readers on a daily basis in the newspaper.'

The newspaper's core strength of delivering quality content in a punchy, visually appealing manner can be produced in book or multi- media platforms, he said.

The Straits Times also has online products, including its website www.straitstimes.com; Stomp, a social networking site; and the recently launched RazorTV, an interactive Web TV service.

Ms Hew and her team's publishing track record ranges from contract publishing for organisations to publishing titles under its own imprint.

Some notable projects include the recently released book commemorating the official opening of Changi Airport's Terminal 3, and the 100th Anniversary books for Great Eastern Life and the Singapore Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

The team has won international recognition for its publications. These include a 148-title series on Cultures and Countries that won the New York Public Library's Teenage Book of the Year Award, and a book that won the 'Best Book on Entertaining' at the Salon du livre Gourmand in Perigeux, France.

Ms Hew, who will be STPress executive director, was excited at the opportunity to work in SPH: 'As a wholly owned subsidiary of SPH, we'll be able to realise and unlock value across the board in breadth and depth.'

She added that the new subsidiary will continue its ongoing publishing programme and look for opportunities in new editorial projects in different formats.

Mr Alan Chan, SPH's chief executive officer, said: 'Straits Times Press is the group's latest initiative to achieve growth by expanding into adjacent businesses, and tapping on the group's extensive resources and strengths.'

SPH last week announced the purchase of Shareinvestor.com, a financial portal and investor relations service. It is also part of OpenNet, the consortium bidding for Singapore's next-generation national broadband network.