Singapore Press Holdings to cut 5-10 per cent of workforce: report

Yahoo file photo

by Nicholas Yong and Safhras Khan

Singapore Press Holdings (SPH) is expected to trim up to 10 per cent of its workforce as part of a company-wide restructuring exercise, according to a Bloomberg report.

Between five and 10 per cent, mostly part-time workers, are expected to go, the financial news agency reported Wednesday (12 Oct), citing three people with knowledge of the matter.

Bloomberg also said that the Singapore media conglomerate is planning to merge two tabloids, The New Paper and My Paper, and the new “free sheet” will focus on providing news to business-savvy readers to compete with MediaCorp’s Today newspaper.

According to its financial report for the fiscal third quarter, as of end-May this year, SPH had a head count of 4,229 employees, and its staff costs amounted to some $277 million.

Multiple sources within SPH told Yahoo Singapore that the media group plans to hold a town hall with its employees next Monday (17 October).

An employee with an SPH publication, who did not want to be named, said that about 20 staff from The New Paper will be laid off. A number of TNP staff will also be deployed to other publications, said the employee, who added that the mood at SPH is sombre, with many worried about their future.

“The older folks are especially concerned about being laid off, given that the economy is not doing so well now. I am concerned too as I am already in my 50s and I still have a family to look after,” the employee added.

Another SPH source said that manpower at TNP would be cut to about 50. Yahoo Singapore understands that the tabloid currently has about 90 staff.

Another employee with The New Paper said, “The mood in the office is very quiet. Yes, I’m concerned. I don’t know where I will go after that if I’m affected.”

Sources inside The Business Times, which revamped its look last week, say the paper is expected to be largely unaffected by the cull.

In response to queries from Yahoo Singapore on the impending changes, an SPH spokesman said, “We do not comment on speculation.”

Troubled times for SPH

For the fiscal third quarter ended 31 May, SPH reported that its net profit fell by 46.4 per cent to $52.7 million compared to the same period a year earlier, dragged down by a decline in its core media business and sluggish economic conditions.

The media business saw a 9.2 per cent drop in advertisment revenue to $15.7 million.

SPH will be releasing its financial year 2016 results on Friday (14 October).