Almost 40 years before Singapore Press Holdings (SPH) announced a value-locking restructuring deal, Singapore’s first Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew had a few words for former President S R Nathan.

When the latter took up the role of executive chairman of Straits Times Press in 1982, Lee said: “Nathan, I am giving you The Straits Times. It has 150 years of history. It has been a good paper. It is like a bowl of china. If you break it, I can piece it together. But it will never be the same. Try not to destroy it.”

In the next couple of decades, this “bowl of China”, structured into a newspaper monopoly, enriched its longtime shareholders handsomely — until the media landscape changed drastically. At a hastily called press conference on May 6, SPH chairman Dr Lee Boon Yang announced a long-awaited restructuring deal where its core media business will be hived off into a public company with a limited by guarantee (CLG) structure.

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