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SPH net profit falls 23% in Financial Year 2019, so let go of 5% of media group staff, Companies & Markets News & Top Stories

SINGAPORE – Singapore Press Holdings (SPH) will let go of 5 per cent of staff from its media group, it said on Thursday (Oct 17), as the company posted at 23.4 per cent decline in net profit for the full year ended Aug 31 .

Full-year net profit fell to $ 213 million from the same period a year earlier, largely due to the previous divestment of the treasury and investment portfolio into defensive, cash-yielding sectors.

Operating profit fell 12.2 per cent to $ 187 million as operating revenue dipped 2.4 per cent to $ 959 million.

Property revenue rose 22.3 per cent to $ 297 million, due to asset acquisitions made over the year, but this was offset by a 12 per cent decline in average revenue to $ 577 million.

Although total audience across the group's media platforms rose, total circulation revenue fell 7.3 per cent by $ 11 million.

Total print advertising revenue fell 14.9 per cent or $ 57 million as advertisers cut back on ad spend amid an uncertain macroeconomic outlook.

SPH chief executive Ng Yat Chung said: "The media business continues to be challenged with the decline in print advertisement and circulation revenue. But we are seeing progress in our digital transformation strategy in terms of improved digital advertisement and circulation growth.

"The media segment is also investing in data analytics for better understanding of the audience and customers."

SPH said it will be streamlining its media operations in line with a new integrated sales approach.

The restructuring will result in an approximate 5 per cent reduction in staff numbers in the media group. About 130 people will be affected, of which 70 are retrenchment cases from the company's marketing and magazine divisions.

The exercise is expected to be completed within the current quarter and will incur retrenchment costs of approximately $ 8 million.

Mr Ng said: "The restructuring will enable us to deliver more effective solutions across various media platforms to meet the evolving demands of our advertising customers. We continue to invest in the newsrooms and digital media capabilities while remaining disciplined about cost.

"This restructuring exercise is necessary to enhance our operational efficiency and strengthen our position in this challenging economic and media environment. I would like to thank the union for its understanding and support through the exercise."

SPH has informed the Ministry of Manpower and the NTUC about the exercise. Affected staff will receive compensation on negotiated terms and agreed with the staff union.

The Creative Media and Publishing Union said that its key focus is to help employees who are affected find new employment as soon as possible and provide additional assistance to union members.

Mr David Teo, the union's president, said: "When the retrenchment takes place, our union leaders and industrial relations officers will be on hand to address our union members' concerns and give them our strong support and assistance.

"Management will also engage a counselor to help those who need a listening ear."

Coaches from NTUC's Employment and Employability Institute will be at SPH's premises to provide advice and assistance to affected employees on employability training, career coaching and guidance, and job placement.

The union will also help affected employees with job profiling and offer other employment-related tools.

Training grants for affected employees will be provided by SPH's management to help them acquire new skills for new jobs, said the union.

Union members can also tap on the Union Training Assistance Program to fund their training.

A final dividend of 6.5 Singapore cents per share, comprising a normal dividend of 5.5 Singapore cents per share and a special dividend of one Singapore cent per share, was declared.

These dividends will be paid on Dec 20. Together with the interim dividend of 5.5 Singapore cents, total dividend payout for FY2019 will be 12 Singapore cents.

Full-year earnings per share was $ 0.13, down from $ 0.17 in the last financial year.

Net asset value per share was $ 2.16 as at Aug 31, up from $ 2.12 as at Aug 31 last year.

SPH shares fell three Singapore cents or 1.39 per cent to $ 2.13 on Thursday before the results were released.

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