While the government did not get involved in the decision by SPH Media Trust (SMT) to acquire technology news outlet Tech in Asia (TIA), it notes that the move supports SMT's transformation and is aligned with the intent of government funding, Minister for Communications and Information Josephine Teo said in a written answer to a parliamentary question on Nov. 22.
SMT also informed the government of its acquisition decision earlier in 2023 and its plan to fund the move through "existing resources".
Teo was responding to questions posed by Workers' Party (WP) Member of Parliament (MP) Louis Chua about whether the government has specified restrictions for SMT's usage of its 5-year S$900 million funding, particularly for mergers and acquisitions.
Chua also asked whether the government has information on the price SMT paid for acquiring TIA.
In response, Teo said the government has also noted that SMT and TIA will not be disclosing the financial terms of this transaction in view of market sensitivities.
MCI is "closely monitoring" SMT's performance
Teo explained that funding for SMT is earmarked primarily for three areas – namely, technology development, talent development, and the preservation of vernacular media.
The Ministry of Communications and Information (MCI) is also closely monitoring SMT's performance and its utilisation of funding in support of these areas to ensure the "prudent use" of public funds.
Media industry is seeing increasing fragmentation and intense competition
Chua also asked about measures the government had implemented to prevent agglomeration risks in the local media industry.
Teo replied, "We should take a broader and more updated view of the media landscape."
According to the minister, with the advent of social and digital media, the media industry has seen increasing fragmentation and "intense" competition both globally and locally, with diverse forms of content offered across a range of online and offline platforms.
As with other industries, however, the government will continue to protect consumers, prevent anti-competitive practices, and take measures to promote "fair and efficient" conduct where necessary.
On Nov. 1, SPH Media said that it had entered into an agreement to acquire the Singapore- and Jakarta-based site for an undisclosed sum.
The acquisition will "accelerate" The Business Times' "goal of becoming a regional player for business and tech news and events".
The acquisition will also support SPH Media's broader transformation efforts in the long term.
Founded in 2010, TIA is a technology news publication that covers startup and venture capital news for users based mainly in Southeast Asia, India, and North America.
The Business Times is Singapore's sole financial daily and was founded in 1976.
The acquisition is subject to customary closing conditions and is expected to close by the end of 2023.
Top photos via SPH Media & Facebook