Iflix Asian streamer cuts jobs as coronavirus adds to debt woes

SINGAPORE/KUALA LUMPUR/LOS ANGELES: Iflix, the multi-territory streaming firm based in Malaysia, has confirmed a significant wave of job cuts. The company is under pressure during the coronavirus crisis and ahead of debt repayment deadlines.

The company is laying off more than 50 people across its various locations, but did not disclose an exact figure.

"The industry is not immune to these unprecedented circumstances. Our decision to reduce the company's headcount has come after careful consideration and in conjunction with other cost-cutting measures, to enable the company to endure this indefinite and uncertain period," said CEO Marc Barnett in a statement.

"We remain focused on driving the business through to breakeven in 2021 and these steps are part of ensuring we remain on that path and can navigate the current challenges. We are naturally doing all we can to support the staff affected both professionally and personally."

The move comes less than two weeks after the announcement by Singtel, that it is putting rival South-East Asian streaming platform Hooq into liquidation.

Hooq is co-owned with WarnerMedia and Sony.

Hooq was available in five territories: Singapore, The Philippines, Indonesia, Thailand and India. Iflix is available in 13 territories in South-East Asia (including Malaysia, Indonesia, The Philippines and Thailand) and the Middle East.

Earlier last week, Iflix called on its existing shareholders to provide it with additional capital, and said that founding shareholder Catcha Group would be putting up a minimum of US$2mil.

In its letter to shareholders, Iflix acknowledged that current circumstances mean that its planned IPO on the Australian Securities Exchange is unlikely to go ahead by mid-year.

That may in turn trigger an acceleration of its debt repayments. According to Dealstreet Asia, citing documents filed with the Australian Securities and Investments Commission in September 2019, Iflix might be forced to redeem just over $47.5 million of convertible loans if it is not listed by July 31, 2020.

Iflix is believed to have raised more money than Hooq, possibly US$300 million since its being founded in 2014. Its backers include Fidelity International, MNC Group, Yoshimoto Kogyo, JTBC, Hearst Communications, EDBI, Liberty Global, Zain, Sky and Evolution Media Capital.

The company says that it is trading well. In his letter to shareholders, Barnett reported that monthly active users are at a record high of 21 million, and up 42% since the start of the year. He said that Iflix had hit its revenue target for the first three months of 2020. - Reuters
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