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SPH restores half of pay cut (ST)

BackDec 02, 2009

Staff will also be rewarded with one-off payments next month

SINGAPORE Press Holdings (SPH) will restore half of the pay cuts it imposed earlier this year and reward staff with one-off payments, the company announced yesterday.

It said that Singapore had seen a strong economic rebound while the company had done well in the financial year, despite the challenging conditions.

The single payments will be made at the end of January while the pay cuts will be partially restored on the first day of that month.

In March this year, SPH announced pay cuts of between 2 per cent and 10 per cent of basic monthly salaries. The cuts, which took effect on April 1, affected about 3,000 staff but did not apply to employees earning $2,000 or less a month.

The cuts were a response to a weaker advertising market and an uncertain business environment due to the global downturn. They followed a range of other cost-cutting measures, including a freeze on the pay of senior management and a slowdown in hiring.

SPH chief executive Alan Chan said in a statement yesterday: "2009 has been a difficult year with the world economy undergoing a deep recession not seen for many years.

"SPH had to take quick pre-emptive measures by cutting wages, operating costs and budgets. These helped us weather the financial storm."

The 50 per cent partial restoration of wages comes as Singapore's economy rebounded strongly in the third quarter, with growth of 14.9 per cent from the previous quarter.

SPH also reported net profit of $421.9 million for the year ended Aug 31, which was down just 3.6 per cent from the previous year, beating market expectations. It was supported by gains from its Sky@eleven property project.

"Given the circumstances, SPH has done well in the financial year 2009. I would like to express my deepest appreciation and thanks to all staff for their contribution and dedication," Mr Chan said.

But he added that the business outlook remains uncertain despite signs of a gradual recovery.

"Our advertisement revenues, which saw some improvement in recent months, are expected to move in tandem with the economy.

"We will have to monitor our cost levels closely while at the same time continuing to exploit opportunities to grow beyond print and beyond Singapore."

Mr Chan also thanked the SPH unions for their understanding and cooperation.

SPH joins companies like Parkway Holdings and property firm Knight Frank which have restored or partially restored wages as the economy regains its footing.

SPH is the largest listed media company here with 17 newspapers, more than 100 magazines and popular websites such as AsiaOne and Stomp. Each day, more than 2.9 million people read one of its 17 newspapers, including Singapore's largest English- language daily, The Straits Times.

chanckr@sph.com.sg