COS 2022: SPH Media Trust

MP Pritam Singh

Mr Pritam Singh: Thank you first to Minister for clarifying the question. I seek some clarity on the question on SPH Media Trust.

When Minister Iswaran spoke of this arrangement because of the changing nature of the media landscape, the Minister said that SPH will first form a new subsidiary and transfer the media-related businesses, properties and some cash and SPH shares and REIT units to the subsidiary. And then, subsequently, if the shareholders, give their approval, the subsidiary will be transferred to the CLG.

I think the substance of what Mr Leong is getting at is about the privatisation of profits and the socialisation of costs to the taxpayer.

So, my question or clarification is when SPH’s proposal was considered by the Government, how far did the Government go to require SPH to transfer segments of its business which would allow the CLG to be self-funded as far as possible in view of the range of assets owned by the SPH group? And what was the nature of those discussions and how much did the Government push, so as to limit the burden on the taxpayer?

The Chairman: Minister Josephine Teo.

Mrs Josephine Teo: Mr Chairman, I will be brief. I have covered the amounts that the shareholders voted and agreed to when the restructuring was tabled to the Extraordinary General Meeting. The shareholders voted and agreed to an initial injection of $80 million cash and $30 million worth of shares for SPH Media Trust. And in the detailed proposal, they also outlined all of the physical assets that would be transferred.

I think it is not a case of how much the Government pushes the shareholders. Ultimately, SPH Media Trust is a restructuring of a media business that existed within a listed company. And so, as things go, it is the proposal that is made by the management to the shareholders that must pass muster. And this was the proposal that passed muster. It is a matter of speculation whether the restructuring proposal could have gone through with even higher contribution. And if it had not gone through, then this whole restructuring exercise would not have been able to proceed. In which case, then, I think we are stuck with an even bigger problem. So, I just wanted to put that in context.

Ministry of Communications and Information
4 March 2022

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