SPH – BT

SPH seeks opportunities in property, new media

Group will continue to focus attention on core print business

SINGAPORE Press Holdings (SPH) is actively seeking out fresh opportunities for its property and new media arms while enhancing its core print business, the group’s chairman and management told shareholders yesterday.

Shareholders raised a couple of queries over whether dividend yields might fall now that the final contributions from SPH’s Sky@eleven condominium project have been recognised.

Chief executive Alan Chan said that while Sky@eleven was indeed a ‘one-off project’, the group’s property division remains on the look-out for opportunities.

He cited its recent bid for a residential-commercial site at Bedok Town Centre, which was the second highest after CapitaLand joint venture’s bid, as an example of active participation in competitive tendering for projects with high potential. Clementi Mall will begin to contribute a stream of rental income once it is operational early next year, he said.

Acknowledging that shareholders had gained in recent years from the recurring profits Sky@eleven brought, Mr Chan said that the challenge would be for the group to now find new businesses to make up for the difference. These would include, among others, its stake in the OpenNet, which is building the optical fibre network for Singapore’s Next Generation Nationwide Broadband Network, as well acquisitions to strengthen its events and exhibition services arm.

SPH chairman Tony Tan also told shareholders, who filled the News Centre’s auditorium yesterday, that the media and property group would ‘continue to focus our attention on our core print business’, improving content and widening readership. At the same time, ‘we will keep growing our adjacent businesses to secure the company’s long-term growth’, he added.

In the light of how the Internet has challenged the traditional media industry worldwide, new media is ‘an investment we cannot neglect’ to prepare SPH for the future, Mr Chan said in response to questions on when the group’s new media ventures would turn profitable.

He added that its ‘first-generation products’, such as the newspapers’ websites, are in fact already profitable, though ‘second-generation’ ones such as STOMP, RazorTV and ST701 are still being nurtured.

All resolutions to re-appoint or re-elect the board’s directors, including Ascendas CEO Chong Siak Ching, who was appointed as a non-executive director in October, were duly passed by shareholders yesterday.

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