Media Chinese still keen to list travel unit

07 Aug 2014 / 05:41 H.

    PETALING JAYA: Media Chinese International Ltd (MCIL), which expects advertising expenditure (adex) to rebound in the second half of the current financial year, is still keen to spin off its travel-related unit through an initial public offering (IPO) in Hong Kong but will not commit to a listing timeline.
    "I don't want to give myself a timeline It's actually lapsed, there is no pressure when to do it, but we'll do it…not too far away," its group CEO Francis Tiong told a press conference after the company's AGM here yesterday.
    To recap, MCIL had in last February aborted its plan to list Charming Holidays International Ltd after a strategic consideration.
    This is not the first time for the deferment of a listing of its travel business as the same decision was made back in the end of 2012, citing that it needed more time to finalise the listing details.
    However this time, he said, Charming Holidays' IPO will be on the main board of the Hong Kong bourse, instead of the Growth Enterprise Market (GEM), considering the bigger size it has right now.
    "We already qualified for main board, so why do we still need to go for a GEM listing…so we let it lapsed first ," Tiong said, adding that the delay for a listing was also due to some issues that needed to be addressed in relation to different territories of operations.
    Commenting on the MCIL's overall financial performance, he believes it will play catch up in the second half of the financial year despite a challenging business environment, especially before the implementation of the goods and services tax (GST) in April 2015.
    "The first half year has actually gone…but we'll not judge the results just based on first half (results), we hope to catch up in the second half," he said.
    Tiong stressed that all media firms, with no exception for MCIL, suffered from a low operating profit in the first half of the year, a result of the subsidy rationalization by the government, coupled with unfortunate tragedies happened to the aviation industry.
    Even though tougher business environment will translate into less revenue for the group, but he believes major operating costs such as newsprint prices and wages could be contained through effective cost control measures.
    He also highlighted that the newsprint costs have been surprisingly at the low level, with less than US$600 per tonne over the past six months.
    MCIL, which controls four chinese dailies in Malaysia, saw its net profit fall 14.9% to RM157.51 million for the financial year ended March 31, 2014, against RM185.08 million it made a year ago, mainly due to lower profit from the publishing and printing segment and higher finance costs.
    According to the latest survey by Nielsen, Malaysia's adex for the January-June period rose 14% to RM5.99 billion, with newspapers accounting for 34%.
    On the dividend, Tiong said the group has been paying dividend with a dividend payout ratio of 50% to 60%, which is at the high end of its internal target of between 30% and 60%.
    MCIL paid a 4.67 sen dividend for the last financial year.

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