January 3, 2008 / 7:25 AM / 12 years ago

Malaysia Media Prima sees Internet ad growth

By Hsu Chuang Khoo

KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 3 (Reuters) - Malaysia’s biggest listed media group, Media Prima (MPRM.KL), expects increased Internet usage to grow online advertising at least ten-fold by 2012.

Nine-tenths of all advertising spending in Malaysia is ploughed into print and television, though that should change as Internet use grows, Media Prima CEO Abdul Rahman Ahmad told Reuters in an interview on Thursday.

Asked if he had financial milestones for Internet-based revenues, he said: “We don’t have any internal targets and it could be pie in the sky, but it’s very important for us to try.”

“We are the biggest producer of content in Malaysia. The opportunity to leverage this lies only with us.”

The company’s Internet strategy includes charging users subscription fees for access to current and archived programs and grabbing a share of the online advertising cake, he said.

About 40 million ringgit ($12.1 million) was spent advertising on the Internet last year, less than 1 percent of the total pie, Abdul Rahman added. Even without growth, that figure could reach 400 million ringgit in 2012, he said.

Media Prima’s assets include four free-to-air TV networks, two radio stations, 43 percent of listed English-language daily the New Straits Times NSTP.KL and three outdoor advertising firms.

In the last year, the company has launched several new Web sites aimed at a consumer market eager to watch new and archived TV shows and programs online.

The firm says its media assets reach 22 million Malaysians daily: about 11 million TV viewers, 7 million newspaper readers and 4 million radio listeners. Malaysia’s population is a little over 25 million.

Media Prima is expected to earn 2007 net profit of 110 million ringgit ($33.2 million) on sales of 650 million ringgit, Reuters data shows. January-September net profit was 79 million ringgit.

Shares in Media Prima fell 2.2 percent on Thursday, while the benchmark Kuala Lumpur Index traded 0.05 percent higher. The stock gained 12 percent in 2007, underperforming a 32 percent rise on the benchmark index.

Media Prima, valued at $700 million, is one of Asia’s cheapest media stocks, trading at about 17 times current-year earnings, compared with 22 times for Japan’s Jupiter Telecommunications Co Ltd 4817.Q and 37 times for India’s Sun TV Network Ltd (SUTV.BO).

(Editing by Ian Geoghegan)

((clarence.fernandez.reuters.com; +603 2275 6846; Reuters Messaging: Hsuchuang.khoo.reuters.com@reuters.net; areuters@gmail.com))

($1=3.309 Malaysian Ringgit) Keywords: MEDIAPRIMA/

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