MALAYSIA: Media tycoon opens up on merger

Tan Sri Tiong Hiew King says the Malaysia-Hong Kong media merger is needed to let a majority Malaysian-owned company become global

Straits Times
Monday, February 12, 2007

Kuala Lumpur --- The Sarawakian tycoon who rarely talks to the media has spoken about his decision to merge three newspaper publishing firms.

In an e-mail interview with the New Sunday Times, Tan Sri Tiong Hiew King said the "bold decision" to merge Malaysia's Nanyang Press Holdings and Sin Chew Media Corp with Hong Kong's Ming Pao Enterprises was needed to "allow a majority Malaysian-owned company to go global."

"We are building a business for tomorrow," he said.

"The dual listing (in Hong Kong and Malaysia for Ming Pao, if the merger succeeds) will give us a chance to tap the international capital markets and give us the size required to carry out acquisitions or form partnerships with other media groups with a strategic fit."

The deal, once completed, will create the world's biggest Chinese media conglomerate outside China and Taiwan and has seen the tycoon labelled the "Rupert Murdoch of the Chinese media."

Tan Sri Tiong declined to comment on the comparison and said: "My colleagues and I have always had the vision of building a global Chinese-language media company with the aim of linking communities around the world."

Discussing his plans, he said the group is expanding in countries and cities with a sizeable Mandarin-reading population where it does not already have a presence.

He did not name the places but said it already has a presence in Malaysia, Hong Kong, China and North America and had editorial licensing deals in Indonesia and Cambodia.

Tan Sri Siong said the group's expansion plans would be in multimedia.

"In time to come, we hope to have a suite of communication channels where we can deliver our content in Mandarin," he said.