SPH to buy popular online financial portal - Sep 10, 2008 (ST)

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The Straits Times / The Business Times News On SPH

SPH to buy popular online financial portal

Proposed $12m deal for Shareinvestor to expand SPH's online presence.

By Robin Chan
Sep 10, 2008
The Straits Times

SINGAPORE Press Holdings (SPH) is furthering its push into the growing online market with a proposed $12 million acquisition of financial portal Holdings.

The transaction cost could rise to $18million depending on Shareinvestor's performance this year and next, SPH said in an announcement to the Singapore Exchange yesterday. The media group will pay a further $2 million to $6 million if the targets it has set for the high-profile Internet firm are met.

Shareinvestor is a home-grown web-based trading platform with more than 5,000 subscribers. It provides real time information on shares and other financial instruments as well as providing a forum for investors to trade opinions.

An SPH spokesman said the firm had been 'planning for some time to develop its financial information offering' as part of its strategy to 'expand its online presence and enhance its offerings to investors, advertisers and readers'.

She added that the media group hopes to 'offer an even more comprehensive and compelling platform to investors and its readers' and 'to provide better access to financial information and tools to facilitate investment decision-making'.

Dr Michael Leong, the founder and chairman of Shareinvestor, said: '(The sale) will create not only the largest investor relations group, but a more powerful financial portal.' He added that the portal will continue to do 'what we do best' but with a much larger parent and more resources available.

SPH has made a strong push into the new media segment recently. It launched The Straits Times RazorTV, a Web TV station, last month and online search engine Rednano in March.

In April, a subsidiary, SPH Interactive International (SPH II), signed a joint venture with Malaysia's Star Publications to provide digital media services in Malaysia through the firm 701Panduan. Last October, SPH II took a 60 per cent stake in a Hong Kong company, 701 Sou, to provide digital media services to China.

Another firm that stands to gain from the deal is the Lexicon Group, which owns a 27.6 per cent stake in the financial portal. If it goes through, it will receive between $3.28 million and $4.92 million.

Based on the larger amount, Lexicon - a Singapore-based magazine publisher - said that it will gain about $3.7 million. It reported losses of $42.67 million for the 12 months to March 31.

Executive vice-chairman and managing director Ricky Ang said the deal is an opportune time to divest of its investment in Shareinvestor.

'It will improve our working capital position, and will allow us to explore other synergistic businesses.'

The deal will be made through SPH's wholly-owned unit SPH Interactive.