Singapore Press Said to Merge Two Newspapers, Reduce Workforce

  • The New Paper, My Paper will merge to form a ‘free sheet’
  • Company also plans to cut workforce by as much as 10 percent

A man reads a newspaper with an image of former prime minister Lee Kuan Yew in Singapore in March 2015.

Photographer: Mohd Rasfan/AFP via Getty Images

Singapore Press Holdings Ltd., Southeast Asia’s biggest newspaper publisher by market value, plans to merge two of its tabloids to form a new free-distribution publication as part of a restructuring effort, three people with knowledge of the matter said.

The publisher is planning to merge The New Paper and My Paper, they said, declining to be identified because the information isn’t public. The company also plans to cut 5 percent to 10 percent of its workforce, mostly part-time workers, two of the people said. Deputy Chief Executive Officer Patrick Daniel is planning a town hall with employees to discuss the restructuring following the announcement, which could come as soon as Thursday, the people said.

Singapore Press Holdings, whose market capitalization of S$6 billion ($4.4 billion) is more than twice that of The New York Times Co., said in an e-mailed response to queries that it doesn’t respond to speculation. The company will release earnings for the year ended Aug. 31 on Friday.

The plans by the publisher of The Straits Times come as newspapers worldwide seek ways to grow as more people turn to the internet and other sources. The U.S. newspaper industry’s revenue has fallen by more than a third since 2005, its best year, and employed roughly a third fewer professionals in 2013 than it did at its peak in 1989.

The new "free sheet" will focus on providing news to business-savvy readers to compete with MediaCorp Pte’s Today newspaper, two of the people said.

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Shares of Singapore Press have dropped 5.8 percent in the past six months, compared with the 0.8 percent gain in the country’s benchmark Straits Times Index. Pretax income from newspapers and magazines, its biggest business group, has fallen for four straight years, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

A continued decline of media revenue and net income from the third quarter is expected when Singapore Press releases its full-year earnings results, Morgan Stanley analyst Xin Jin Ling said in a report this month. Circulation revenue is also expected to fall slightly as a price increase is offset by a decline in daily circulation, the analyst said.

The New Paper was started almost three decades ago and presents news in an "easy-to-read, pop style" for younger adults and busy readers, according to its website. My Paper was started in 2006 as the city-state’s first free Chinese paper, and relaunched less than two years later offering news in both English and Chinese, targeting young, bilingual professionals, its website showed.

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