Mon, Jun 25, 2007 - Page 12 News List

Embattled Eastern Broadcasting to delist from bourse

By Lisa Wang  /  STAFF REPORTER

Eastern Broadcasting Co (東森電視), a TV station affiliated with the scandal-ridden Eastern Multimedia Group (EMG, 東森媒體集團), will withdraw from the nation's secondary stock market, the GRETAI, in the next 15 days as it fights for its survival.

The company's board approved the proposal on Friday, company president Chang Shu-sen (張樹森) said in a filing to the Taiwan Stock Exchange dated Saturday, after shares were suspended on the Emerging Stock Market (興櫃市場) on Thursday.

In the filing, Chang said the decision was made to minimize the adverse impact on the company's stock price amid swirling speculation linking it with investigations targeting EMG on bribery and corruption.

Eastern Broadcasting does not rule out the possibility of resuming trading in future, the filing said.

With 1.05 million subscribers, Eastern Multimedia Co (東森媒體科技) -- which owns a 25 percent stake in Eastern Broadcasting -- is the nation's second-largest cable TV operator, behind China Network Systems Co (中嘉).

Taiwan's cable TV market has approximately 4.4 million subscribers.

Last year, the US private equity firm Carlyle Group acquired stakes in Eastern Multimedia, Eastern Broadcasting and Eastern Home Shopping Network (東森得易購) for NT$48 billion (US$1.47 billion) to NT$50 billion in a bid to further expand its digital TV operations into China.

Beside its plan to withdraw from the smaller bourse, the TV company also intended to raise NT$200 million to repay its debts and hoped to gain shareholder approval for the plan during the annual shareholder meeting on Wednesday, the Chinese-language online news provider cnyes.com reported on Saturday, citing Chang.

The company's decision came after Eastern Broadcasting chairman Gary Wang (王令麟), founder of EMG, was detained last week on alleged misappropriation of the TV company's funds last year.

Investigators also suspect Wang embezzled corporate funds from other companies controlled by the Wang clan, including Asia Pacific Broadband Telecom Co (亞太固網寬頻).

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