Singapore Press Holdings to continue to look for projects that add value

Singapore Press Holdings (SPH) CEO Alan Chan (right) speaks to SPH chairman Lee Boon Yang before the start of the SPH annual general meeting on Friday, Nov 29, 2013, at its News Centre premises in Toa Payoh North. SPH will continu
Singapore Press Holdings (SPH) CEO Alan Chan (right) speaks to SPH chairman Lee Boon Yang before the start of the SPH annual general meeting on Friday, Nov 29, 2013, at its News Centre premises in Toa Payoh North. SPH will continue to look for accretive projects for its long-term businesses, said Dr Lee on Friday. -- ST PHOTO: SEAH KWANG PENG

MEDIA and property company Singapore Press Holdings (SPH) will continue to look for accretive projects for its long-term businesses, said chairman Lee Boon Yang on Friday.

He was speaking at SPH's annual general meeting, held at its News Centre premises in Toa Payoh North.

Dr Lee cited the recently-announced $100 million New Media Fund, which will be used to invest in media-related businesses for growth.

"We are also looking at malls and other appropriate investments to create more value for SPH shareholders," Dr Lee told shareholders.

The company has an overall "war chest" of $1.7 billion that can be deployed when suitable investment opportunities arise.

In the meantime, the company will maintain a return on these funds "that is commensurate with risks," Dr Lee added.

He also noted that SPH is poised to engage a new generation of digital media consumers as well as advertisers that want to reach out to consumers using multiple platforms.

But some digital media investments, both here and overseas, may take several years before yielding a profit, he said in response to a shareholder's question. For instance, the investment in Malaysia online marketplace website Mudah.my took about five years before it became profitable last year.

"We have to position ourselves for the media of the future which is going to be more and more in the digital arena," said Dr Lee. "We have to make these investments now even though some of the investments result in low returns (initially)... in future this will be the way media is being produced, distributed and consumed."

Dr Lee noted that the yield for digital media remains lower than that for the print product. This is in line with global industry trends as advertisers have not fully moved to tap on digital platforms.

"We will continue to work hard to ensure that our print platforms continue to provide good service to advertisers," he said. The company will also develop strategies to ensure that digital subscribers also give a "similar, if not higher" yield as for print subscribers.