Maiden M&A in Malaysia’s news portal industry with The Vibes acquiring The Malaysian Insight

MALAYSIA’S so-called crowded news portal playing field “is bound to shrink a little” following the industry’s deemed first merger and acquisition (M&A) exercise with The Vibes founder Datuk Vinod Sekhar confirming his purchase of The Malaysian Insight (TMI) yesterday (Nov 4).

This is certainly a welcome move for both news portals to circumvent the financial hardship encountered by every news portal operator amid a challenging media industry landscape while fostering the sharing of resources to keep abreast with today’s fast-paced news reporting concept with the advent of social media.

However, it is not immediately known how The Vibes and TMI plan to streamline their operations given TMI is paywall-bound or only accessible via subscription whereas The Vibes is a free-for-all news portal.

“Pending a clear definition on how the merger will pan out with a series of meeting between both owners (Vinod and TMI’s CEO Jahabar Sadiq) slated for this coming week, it’s BAU (business as usual) for both the present teams of The Vibes and TMI,” a reliable source with inside knowledge told FocusM.

“The deal was sealed in earnest last week with Jahabar having approached Vinod (who is still seeking treatment for his heart condition in India).

“This is nothing surprising as even before The Vibes was launched, Vinod had considered acquiring a few news portals including TMi as part of his grand vision of online news presence which will cater to needs of the present leadership of (Prime Minister Datuk Seri) Anwar Ibrahim.”

A relatively newbie founded at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic on Sept 19, 2020 in conjunction with Malaysia Day that year, The Vibes faces manpower crunch in recent times after more than half of its staff ‘eloping’ to following a fall-out between its former managing editor Terence Fernandez and Vinod who is also the PETRA Group chairman and CEO.

Datuk Vinod Sekhar
Jahabar Sadiq

Meanwhile, TMI is very much a ‘buy-out’ of The Malaysian Insider by Jahabar (who happened to be its CEO-cum-editor) after its then parent company The Edge Media Group decided to shut down the news portal on March 15, 2016 after claiming that it has amassed losses amounting to RM10 mil in the 20 months since its acquisition in June 2014.

The action came after the Insider was blocked by the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) on the grounds of national security following continuous publication of defamatory content on Feb 25, 2016.

Interestingly, the Insider was started in December 2007 by a group of businessmen and journalists close to fifth premier Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi as a counter to Malaysiakini which was deemed unfriendly to the Barisan Nasional (BN) administration. – Nov 5, 2023

Subscribe and get top news delivered to your Inbox everyday for FREE