SPH eyes malls to offset falling circulation

Singapore Press Holdings (SPH) is eyeing further investments in real estate, in particular shopping malls that will provide recurring income, its chief financial officer said.

Cash-rich SPH has been investing in new areas, from outdoor advertising to property, to offset falling circulation at its main publications.

SPH reported a 14-per-cent rise in advertising revenue growth in its last fiscal year, helped by a strong recovery in the Singapore economy.

But its newspaper circulation continued to fall, with The Straits Times recording an average circulation of 365,800 in August, down from 374,500 a year ago.

Apartment sales and rental income accounted for a quarter of SPH’s $1.4 billion operating revenue last financial year. Its Clementi Mall will open early next year.

“We will continue to look at retail opportunities. We are still a media company, (but) we have a property wing,” chief financial officer Tony Mallek said.

Mr Mallek said SPH preferred malls to residential development because of the recurring revenues.

The company is familiar with retailing, having owned the upmarket Paragon along Orchard Road since 1997.

SPH, which will report fiscal first quarter earnings on Jan 14, had $461 million in cash at the end of its financial year ended this August, up from $299 million a year earlier.

Source : Today – 31 Dec 2010