SPH – BT

SPH buys Shareinvestor.com

It will pay up to $18m if financial portal meets targets

Singapore Press Holdings (SPH) will buy online financial portal Shareinvestor.com for up to $18 million as part of its efforts to broaden its Internet-based financial services, the publishing company said yesterday.

SPH, which publishes The Business Times, said that it has agreed to acquire all the shares of Shareinvestor.com Holdings from its existing owners for between $12 million and $18 million in cash.

The exact sum payable will depend on whether Shareinvestor.com and its subsidiaries hit certain targets for their 2008 and 2009 financial years.

Under the terms of the agreement, the overall purchase price may be reduced if the targets are not achieved, SPH said in a statement yesterday.

The existing owners of Shareinvestor.com include the Lexicon Group, a Singapore-listed magazine publisher, which owns a 27.7 per cent stake in the company.

The other owners are individuals, comprising its founder and chairman Michael Leong, chief executive Christopher Lee, group IT director Lim Dau Hee and five others.

Lexicon – or Panpac Media.com, as it was then known – first bought its stake in Shareinvestor.com in February 2002. It paid $1.1 million in an all-share deal for 1.85 million Shareinvestor.com shares, or what was then a 25 per cent stake, valuing the company at $4.4 million.

In a statement yesterday, Lexicon said that it expects to make a net gain of about $3.7 million from the sale of its stake, based on the maximum $4.92 million it will get if Shareinvestor.com meets all the targets set out in the agreement.

In March 2004, Shareinvestor.com explored listing on the Singapore Exchange, according to a statement at the time by Lexicon. Shareinvestor.com hired OCBC Bank as issue manager, but ultimately did not go public.

The acquisition by SPH – through subsidiary SPH Interactive – is subject to ‘satisfactory due diligence findings’ and other approvals, SPH said. Lexicon’s shareholders will also have to agree to the sale of its stake.

SPH said that it will fund the purchase from internal resources and the deal will not have a material impact on its earnings or assets for its current financial year, which ends next August.

Founded in 1999, Shareinvestor.com provides financial market news and commentary, data feeds and analytical software and other services for stock trading – some free and others on a subscription basis. It operates in Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand and has more than 7,000 paying subscribers, according to its website.

It also provides online investor relations services for companies in the region, including StarHub, Noble Group and Cosco Corp here, through another website it operates, Listedcompany.com.

It has paid-up capital of $5.9 million.

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