Malaysia’s The Sun newspaper facing headwinds of a sunset industry

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The Sun’s owner, Berjaya Media Berhad, is eyeing a delisting exercise for the company from Malaysia’s stock market, a source said.

The source said the company is unable to weather the extreme downtrend in the printing and media print industry in Malaysia.

This situation has hit most of the printed media companies, and the downtrend became clear with the recent foreclosure of one of its biggest printing factory in the region.

Malaysian Newsprint Industries Sdn Bhd (MNI), a regional paper manufacturer and supplier owned partly by The New Straits Times Press (M) Bhd (NSTP) and Hong Leong Industries Bhd began creditors’ voluntary winding-up proceedings on August 2.

MNI, which operates a newsprint mill in Mentakab, Pahang, signed an 11½-year, US$287mil (RM1.2bil) project financing deal in 1998 for the construction of the country’s first newsprint mill.

Oslo-based Norske Skog, one of the world’s largest producers of publication paper, owns the same level of a stake in MNI as HLI, at 33.65%, while the Rimbunan Hijau group owns the remaining 11.34%.

Known as Malaysia’s pioneer newsprint producer, its closure is an indication of the changing landscape in the media industry, and The Sun might be the next victim.

Rumours have it that The Sun might close shop if a consolidation exercise recently launched fails to gather momentum.

Vincent Tan, the owner of Berjaya Media, has been looking for a buyer for The Sun paper.

The source said this would include its entire operations. But the search has been ongoing for the longest time without success.

“There have been rumours of closing print ops and going fully e-paper but I am sure that is not happening anytime soon.
“That’s because there are a lot of people working on the print operations and it would be really crippling for them,” said the source in Kuala Lumpur.

The paper recently opted for a consolidation exercise, in which it revived its weekend paper in an effort to gain more traction and online advertising sales. The weekend edition is in the e-paper format.

The Sun has an online following of around 15,000 (daily unique visitors).
it is apparently still publishing over 300,000 copies but it does not have print publication during public holidays as part of cost cutting measures introduced earlier this year.