Keppel steps up to offer billions for floundering Singapore Press Holdings

The Singapore Press Holdings headquarters in Toa Payoh. Photo: Google
The Singapore Press Holdings headquarters in Toa Payoh. Photo: Google

Singaporean conglomerate Keppel Corp. has offered S$2.2 billion (US$1.6 billion) to acquire the real estate arm of what was the city-state’s largest media company.

Singapore Press Holdings, which publishes The Straits Times, announced the buyout offer this morning, adding that if the deal is done, the firm would be delisted from the stock exchange and become a wholly owned, private subsidiary of Keppel. 

“The outcome is the result of a strategic review process that has taken place over many months. We took the first step with the Media Restructuring to ensure a sustainable future for the media business, while removing its losses from [Singapore Press Holdings],” wrote CEO Ng Yat Chung, who back in May was publicly mocked for his imperious handling of questions about the media company’s implosion.

The deal would provide Keppel with the company’s non-media-related assets. Singapore Press Holdings, or SPH, announced in May that it would fold its loss-leading media outlets; including its daily newspaper and dozens of magazines, and radio stations; into a nonprofit.

Under the proposed deal, Keppel would receive a 20% stake in SPH’s two real estate investment trusts, with SPH shareholders receiving S$0.668 per share and a fraction of shares in both Keppel trusts.

SPH recorded its first-ever loss of S$11.4 million last year on a S$122.5 million decline in advertising due to the collapse of print circulation and “sustained stiff competition” for digital advertising.

Keppel was founded in 1968 and has holdings in the marine, real estate and asset management sectors. Its largest shareholder is state holding company Temasek Holdings.

Correction: A previous version of this story misstated Keppel Corp.’s offer as S$3.4 billion. It was in fact S$2.2 billion and excluded SPH’s real estate investment trusts.

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