Utusan facing risk of delisting

PETALING JAYA: Umno-linked media company Utusan Melayu (M) Bhd is facing the possibility of being delisted from the stock exchange after it was classified as a Practice Note 17 (PN17) company which indicates that its financials are inadequate.

The Star reported that in a filing with Bursa Malaysia yesterday, the company said it would need to come up with a regularisation plan within the next 12 months.

The company, which publishes Utusan Malaysia, has defaulted on loans from Bank Mualamat Malaysia Bhd and Maybank Islamic Bhd, the report said.

It has been depending on government assistance to stay afloat over the past two years but previous reports have said that it might not last beyond this year.

Staff have been told that the company would run out of funds soon as it struggles in the wake of Barisan Nasional’s recent polls defeat.

The top management had told staff that major restructuring was being planned as part of a strategy to weather tough times ahead.

If it fails to come up with a plan, it risks being delisted from the stock exchange.

For its first quarter ended March 31, 2018, Utusan suffered a loss of RM5.8 million. In the same period last year, it lost RM22.8 million.

Despite a drop in readership, the Malay-language daily has for a long time been able to survive through government contracts, procured through its links with Umno.

Just last year, it was reported that the company was awarded a contract to supply more than 180,000 tablets to teachers nationwide. Weeks before the May 9 polls, it was Utusan which was tasked with printing campaign posters for BN.

However, earlier this month, it was reported that a memo was issued to schools, colleges, universities and agencies under the education ministry to immediately terminate subscription of the Utusan Malaysia newspaper.

Other Umno-linked media companies, including New Straits Times Press, are also trying to adjust to the new political landscape which is slowly taking shape under the Pakatan Harapan administration.

NSTP, which publishes the once virulent pro-Umno New Straits Times and two other dailies, has urged staff to “adjust editorially” to the new political climate, saying they would now maintain “neutrality” in its coverage.