International Business & Economy LG (NS) Ng who sold NOL to French now wants to turn...

LG (NS) Ng who sold NOL to French now wants to turn SPH around

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The Business Times reported today that the former Neptune Orient Lines (NOL) chief executive Ng Yat Chung has been appointed as an independent director of the government-linked company, Singapore Press Holdings (SPH). Mr Ng will be a member of the publishing company’s board risk committee.

Besides his appointment in SPH Mr Ng is still an executive director on the board of NOL, and is also the chairman of the board of trustees at the Singapore Institute of Technology.

It is unclear on which other organisations’ Boards Mr Ng sits, but the SPH’s Nomination Committee has an internal guideline addressing competing time commitments that arise when Directors serve on multiple boards and have other principal commitments. The NC says that “as a guide, Directors should not have more than six listed company board representations and other principal commitments.”

According to SPH’s Annual Report, Mr Ng will receive $12,500 for sitting on SPH’s Board Risk Committee.

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Former Cabinet Minister and SPH’s chairman Lee Boon Yang said that Mr Ng “will complement our diverse strengths and expertise. He will help us to steer SPH to greater heights of organisational and business excellence.”

Mr Ng received similar accolades from the Chairman of NOL’s Board, Mr. Cheng Wai Keung, when he joined the global container shipping company. Mr Cheung said, “After a comprehensive global search, the Board is fully satisfied that Ng Yat Chung is the candidate to succeed Ron Widdows in leading the Group forward in its next phase of strategy.”

Under Mr Ng’s predecessor Ron Widdows’ leadership NOL recovered from the $741 million loss it suffered in 2009 during the industry downturn and recorded a $461 million profit in 2010, a $1.2 billion turnaround. Under Mr Ng’s watch, NOL lost more than $1.5 billion, and finally Temasek was forced to sell NOL away to a French conglomerate.

Mr Ng said that he regretted the sale of NOL to the French. He said that he had a “tinge of this ‘sayang’ feeling.” A writer for TISG had previously said that Mr Ng has been earning at least S$16 million since he took over as CEO in 2011. (https://theindependent.sg.sg/lg-ns-ng-earns-at-least-s16m-in-total-before-sale-of-nol/)

Mr Ng was a career soldier and served in the Armed Forces from 1979, and rose to the rank of Lieutenant-General by the time he retired in 2007. Barely four months after retiring from the Armed Forces, the General took up a newly created position of portfolio management managing director at Temasek Holdings.

When he was appointed in this new position by Temasek Holdings in Jul 2007, netizens asked, “what does a general knows about financial portfolio?”

Financial Times reported in Aug 2008 that in the year 2007, Temasek Holdings shifted its focus away from Asia and invested in financial institutions like Merrill Lynch and Barclays, only to make a huge loss.

It is unclear what experience Mr Ng has in the media industry, but in speaking about his appointment to SPH he said: “Though the media landscape is rapidly evolving with technological advances, I am sure we can turn all challenges into opportunities. I look forward to working with the board to maintain our leadership position in the media sector, and to seek new growth for the company.”

SPH recently reported that its turnover for its newspaper and magazine business declined in the third quarter of its financial year. SPH said that the turnover for its newspaper and magazine business declined 7.6 percent to S$239.5 million, mainly due to an 8.2 percent fall in advertisement revenue and 5.8 per cent decrease in circulation revenue.

Commenting on its less than stellar performance, SPH’s chief executive officer Alan Chan said in a statement that the Government controlled media company has embarked on a “comprehensive review of its core media business”.

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