SPH divests stake in 701Search for US$109m

701Search was first established in 2006 with SPH Interactive International Pte Ltd (SPHI) and Norway's Schibsted Classified Media.
701Search was first established in 2006 with SPH Interactive International Pte Ltd (SPHI) and Norway's Schibsted Classified Media.PHOTO: SCREENGRAB FROM 701SEARCH

SINGAPORE - Singapore Press Holdings (SPH) announced on Friday morning (May 12) the proposed divestment of its one-third stake in 701Search Pte Ltd (701Search) to Norwegian telecommunications operator Telenor for approximately US$109 million (S$153.5 million).

701Search was first established in 2006 with SPH Interactive International Pte Ltd (SPHI) and Norway's Schibsted Classified Media as equal partners. It welcomed Telenor as an equal partner in 2013 and currently operates the online classified sites Chotot.vn in Vietnam, OneKyat.com in Myanmar, Mudah.my in Malaysia and ImSold, an online classifieds mobile app.

Besides SPHI, Norway's Schibsted will also sell its stake to Telenor, said SPH in a filing with the Singapore Exchange.

The transaction is subject to regulatory and other relevant approvals and conditions. Upon closing, 701Search will cease to be an associate company of SPH.

SPH chief executive officer Alan Chan said: "701Search has performed well over the last 10 years since it started. This transaction presents an attractive opportunity for us to realise our investment. Telenor would be in the best position to continue growing the business further, deriving synergies between the online classifieds business and its telecommunications business."

SPH said the transaction does not include SPHI's effective ownership in its online classified joint ventures with Schibsted, Telenor and Naspers Ltd in Thailand and Indonesia, with SPHI holding 18.6 per cent and 13.3 per cent interest respectively.

SPH said it will continue to invest in the digital business and look out for opportunities in Singapore and the region, subject to economics and business outlook considerations.