Hot news on the KL media grapevine is that Leslie Lopez, regional correspondent for the Straits Times, is settling down to a desk job at The Edge, where he will be deputy to its new editor-in-chief, Kevin Khoo, someone “from the investment community” as an informant put it. Former chief editor Dorothy Teoh will now head another section.
The changes are said to be part of moves by the Edge to increase its presence, both in print as well as online. Word is that more staff are being taken on, to widen news and business coverage and turn the web site into a full-fledged news operation of its own.
(Leslie Lopez confirmed later that he is joining the Edge.)
(Neither Leslie nor Dorothy was available for comment.)
The Edge is a profitable business weekly choc-a-bloc with specialist sections containing high-end advertising, and its companion, the Financial Daily, which provides current financial and business news and two successful magazines. A socio-political lifestyle magazine Off The Edge, was closed last year in order to concentrate on news and business coverage.
Vincent Tan connection
The changes at the Edge coincidentally come at a time when tycoon Vincent Tan (of Berjaya, Sports Toto, Bukit Tinggi, McDonald’s Starbucks, Kenny Rogers and 7-Eleven) announced he is relinquishing control of his diversified Berjaya group to his son Robin.
The Vincent Tan business empire includes The Sun, which he founded in 1994 as a national morning daily after selling off a 30% stake in the Star. The paper burned through a reputed RM200mil investment, and was close to being shut down after a front-page report on an alleged plot to assassinate Mahathir Mohamad in 2000. It continued bleeding cash until it was turned into a Klang Valley-based free paper in 2002 under managing director Lim Siang Jin. A year later, the Sun merged with The Edge through public-listed Nexnews Berhad, in a joint venture between Vincent Tan and Edge owner Tong Kooi Ong, a former stockbroker-banker; operational control was placed under Edge executives led by managing director Ho Kay Tat, once a Malay Mail chief reporter.
In a surprise move in 2008, Vincent Tan bought back the Sun by taking control of Nexnews from Tong, who then retained The Edge. Two years later, Edge managing director Ho Kay Tat moved to the Star. He is now chief executive.
Both the Sun and the Edge have long been rumoured to be targets of an acquisition by Star Publications in order to broaden its product range and cushion its heavy dependence on the revenues churned up by the profitable Star.
A Mail ‘takeover’ by the Sun mafia
The Malay Mail, the long faded king of the Klang Valley, began a new lease on life this month as a RM1 morning newspaper under the leadership of two people from the Sun. Phillip Karuppiah, the Sun’s chief executive, moved to the Mail in April last year and suspended publication as a free evening paper in November in order to relaunch as a morning daily. Terence Fernandez, brought in from the Sun to be editor (news) with old Mail hand Frankie D’Cruz as executive editor has now been joined by his former editor Chong Cheng Hai as editorial consultant. Chong retired from the Sun at the end of last year.
(The Sun’s deputy editor, Freddie Ng, also once with the Mail when it was part of NSTP Group, took over as editor in January.)
The Mail is owned by Redberry group of outdoor advertising companies, which also includes Edge competititor Malaysian Reserve, a business daily which republishes the International Herald Tribune.
At the time of the Mail’s suspension, the Star ran a story speculating that Redberry were offering businessman Khoo Kay Peng a stake in the Mail, or that it might divest its media properties to other well-connected Malaysian businessmen.
It’s a small world in Malaysia’s English-language media.