Standard Group ups stake in digital and broadcast units

Standard Group Director Samuel Tiampati(left), Chairman Robin Sewell(centre) and Standard Group CEO Sam Shollei(right) during the company’s AGM. (Photo: Wilberforce Okwiri/Standard)

The Standard Group is set to increase its investment in digital and broadcast products as it moves to match the changing needs of consumers.

Standard Group CEO Sam Shollei said the company, now 115 years old, will diversify its products to serve the growing needs of consumers as well as create more value for shareholders. “Because of the changing needs of consumers, the board has found it necessary to diversify its business from print to more broadcast and digital,” said Mr Shollei.

Addressing shareholders Friday during the group’s 99th Annual General Meeting at the Standard Group headquarters, Shollei said that globally, technology has disrupted traditional media and necessitating the need to tap into other revenue streams.

However, he said that even in the challenging business landscape characterised by a shift to digital products and declining print business, the group weathered the storm to become the only media house in the country to grow its topline in 2016. For the financial year that ended December 31, 2016, the Nairobi Securities Exchange (NSE)-listed media house posted a net profit of Sh198.5 million being a growth of 168 per cent from a loss position in 2015.

Shollei told shareholders that KTN News, East and Central Africa’s first 24-hour news channel, is now ranked number three after KTN Home, just two years after it was launched. “We are starting to see revenue growth on KTN News. Radio Maisha was nowhere in top 30 some three years ago but is now ranked second. Its topline grew by 47 per cent,” said Shollei.

His sentiments were supported by Mr Sam Muturi, a shareholder, who said that KTN News had carved its niche as an educative and informative channel. Shollei disclosed to shareholders that a new radio station may be on the way as the Group moves to address a new segment of listeners. This is further expected to grow revenue for shareholders as circulation of newspapers in the industry drops.

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“We are clear that we want to expand investment in radio. Next year, we will possibly launch a new radio station,” he told investors. According to Group Chairman Robin Sewell, the Group wants to ride on the five-year strategy that runs up to 2021 to deliver value to the investors.

Flagship product

“The year under review yielded positive results and the Board is confident that the Group is well equipped to withstands industry challenges and attain sustainable growth,” he said.

Shollei believes that the increased investment will put the Group’s shareholders in a better position to reap from increased value. In March, the Group relaunched its flagship product —The Standard—and the NSE has warmed up to this decision.

Standard Group’s share recently touched a high of Sh40 and currently averages Sh37.50, making it the best performing on the bourse this year. It had closed 2016 at Sh16.50.

Commenting on the growth of The Nairobian, another of the Group’s brands, the CEO said that the market continues to receive the product well and it has been cited as “case study in media schools.”

During the AGM, shareholders approved the company change of name from ‘The Standard Group Limited’ to ‘The Standard Group PLC’ in line with the new Companies Act 2015.

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In addition, Shaun Zambuni, a non-executive director and two directors—Mr Francis Munywoki and Dr James Boyd Mcfie—were re-elected to continue serving in their positions.

Mr Zambuni and Dr Mcfie were also re-elected to continue serving as members of the Audit and Finance Committee as were Samuel Tiampati and Ms Zehrabanu Janmohamed.

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