The predecessor to Press Corporation Limited a public listed company without Government shareholding was established in 1961 by the late Dr. H. Kamuzu Banda, the former head of state of Malawi, when he established Malawi Press Limited as a publishing Company.
During the 1970's Press Holdings expanded rapidly, and by 1979 the company had interests in 17 subsidiary companies and 23 associated companies. The rapid expansion had been fueled by heavy short- term borrowing and by the beginning of the 1980's the company was faced with financial crisis. Falling terms of trade due to oil shock of 1979-1980 and decline export prices combined with the civil war in Mozambique exacerbated by heavy short term borrowing, resulted in overdrafts and borrowings of Press Holdings of nearly MK100 million by July 1980. A loss of 12 million in 1980 brought the company to the brink of collapse.
Malawi Press Limited printed The Malawi News , a newspaper closely allied to Dr. Banda's political organization, the Malawi Congress Party. After Malawi gained its independence in 1966, Malawi Press Limited was re- incorporated as Malawi Press (1966) Limited and became an investment company.
In 1969 the company invested in its first venture, Press Farming, and later that year all Press interests were incorporated under a new holding company, Press (Holdings) Limited ("Press Holdings").
Press Holdings was designed to be a major business and economic force in the country, serving as a private sector counterpart to Government parastatals such as Admarc and MDC.
In 1983 President Banda ordered that Press Holdings be reconstructed. After negotiations with bilateral donors, the World Bank and the IMF, a new company, Press Group Limited, was incorporated on 27th February 1984 in Blantyre as a holding company. Press Corporation Limited a wholly owned subsidiary of Press Group Limited was incorporated on 27th February 1984. Majority ownership of the company was vested in Press Group Limited, which was owned in turn by Press Trust. Press Trust was founded on 10th February 1982 by President Banda , who established Press Trust as a charitable organization under the Press Trust Deed and incorporated it on 5th March 1982.
Under the terms of the Press Trust Deed, Press Trust is a public trust governed by the trustees, who determine the form and quantum of contributions Press Trust will make towards the development and betterment of Malawi. The Object of Press Trust is to act on behalf of the citizens of Malawi.
Upon the reconstruction in 1983, the company assumed MK71 million in debt representing the obligations of Press (Holdings) and its subsidiaries. A period of double-digit growth ensued. Between 1983 and 1993, the company's performance improved from a loss of MK12 million in 1983 to pre-tax profits of MK177 million in 1993, an increase mirrored by an improvement in shareholders' funds, which increased from MK4 million to MK567 million over the same period. In 1993, the company repaid the MK71 million borrowed in the reconstruction 15 years early.
Since its founding, the company has entered into and renewed a number of joint ventures with local and foreign partners such as Universal Leaf Corporation, the American tobacco conglomerate which has a 58% stake in Limbe Leaf Tobacco Company Limited ; PUMA Energy which is part of the Trafigura Group owns 50% of Puma Malawi Limited formerly BP Malawi Limited; Carlsberg A/S, the Danish brewing company holds a 50% stake in Carlsberg Malawi. These strategic alliances provide the company with technical, management and financial support while broadening the skills base in Malawi and fostering international connections.
For the last three decades, the Company's economic presence in Malawi has been inextricably linked with its political past. On 5th November 1995, the National Assembly passed the Press Trust Reconstruction Act ( the "Act"), which redefined Press Trust's charitable objectives. The company subsequently became the object of vigorous debate between the Government and Opposition as members of the previous trust went to court in attempt to overcome the Act. In January 1997, the Supreme Court of Malawi upheld the legitimacy of the Act that gave the company certainty of ownership. In mid 1997, the company appointed a new Chief Executive Officer and with the support of the trustees and new Directors, it has implemented a number of strategic initiatives.