Wed, Sep 05, 2012 - Page 3 News List

Next Media Group says it is ‘negotiating’ a selloff

HOLD THE FRONT PAGE:The firm, owned by vocal anti-Beijing critic Jimmy Lai, is rumored to be talking a deal for a sale to include the ‘Apple Daily’

By Shelley Shan  /  Staff reporter

Next Media Group has said in a voluntary notice issued at the

Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing (HKEx) that it has

been approached by an independent third party which is interested

in acquiring its three Taiwanese publications, including the

Chinese-language Apple Daily (Taiwan) (台灣蘋果日報), Sharp Daily (

台灣爽報) and Next Magazine (壹週刊). The deal does not include

Next TV.

“We are currently conducting preliminary negotiations with the

stated third party,” the group said in the notice. “Should it

materialize, it could potentially be a transaction that we must

disclose, based on HKEx rules.”

The group emphasized that as of yesterday it had yet to reach any

legally binding agreement and that the terms of the transaction

were still under initial negotiations.

Next Media Group’s executive director Cassian Cheung (張嘉聲) said

in a letter to the group’s employees that the transaction had been

disclosed in accordance with HKEx rules. This did not mean that the

group has confirmed that it had sold the stated publications,

Cheung added. The group is to contact and negotiate with any

interested parties in the next few weeks.

“Our operation will remain unchanged during this period of time,

so everyone should carry out their work as usual,” Chang said in

the letter.

Earlier this year, media reported that Next Media Group chairman

Jimmy Lai (黎智英) had intended to sell all the media outlets

within the group at a bundled price of US$500 million after

continued losses seen in its television network and multimedia

divisions.

Lai, however, denied that this was the case.

Regarding the potential buyers, there has been speculation in the

media that they could include Taiwan’s Fubon Group, which recently

purchased the cable television systems owned by Kbro Co while Cite

Media Holdings Group (城邦媒體集團), which was recently acquired by

Hong Kong business tycoon Li Kai-shing (李嘉誠),was also included

on the list of interested firms.

Lai, a vocal critic of the Beijing adminstration, expanded his

media empire to Taiwan in 2001, with the launch of Taiwanese

editions of the weekly Next Magazine and the Apple Daily. Both have

enjoyed commercial success.

Additional reporting by Staff writer

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