National Communications Commission (NCC) Chairperson Howard Shyr (石世豪) yesterday said that the commission plans to examine claims that the cable service operator Taiwan Broadband Communications (TBC) has received funding from Chinese investors.
TBC’s major shareholder Macquarie Group launched its Asia Pay Television Trust (APTT) on the Singapore Exchange in May.
The cable service operator then applied for permission to change its overseas investment structure, which was approved by the NCC last week.
Currently, Taiwan bans direct Chinese investment in local media outlets and telecom companies.
However, a story reported by the Chinese-language China Times yesterday said APTT had drawn funds from Chinese investors, which could generate national security concerns.
The commission’s handling of the case was heavily criticized by the lawmakers at a meeting of the legislature’s Transportation Committee yesterday.
In response, Shyr said the commission would review the facts, and spend two days investigating the matter.
Shyr said the NCC commissioners spent four hours deliberating before they decided to grant TBC’s request because some commissioners thought the change should not be approved.
He added that stocks in initial public offerings (IPOs) would draw funding from all over the world.
“APTT’s contract promised that the group would buy back shares purchased by Chinese investors,” Shyr said, adding that any change in management would be close scrutinized.
Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Lin Kuo-cheng (林國正) asked why the NCC approved the change if TBC’s board had not told the truth in the first place.
“Many companies have launched IPOs overseas to bypass government regulations,” he said.
The committee passed a resolution requesting the NCC to deliver a report on its investigation into the TBC’s overseas shareholding structure before tomorrow.
Shyr said that previously such cases only needed to be approved by the Investment Commission.
However, he said the Investment Commission had agreed that any investment in media outlets needed to be reviewed by the NCC as well.
Meanwhile, the NCC issued a statement yesterday saying it had requested TBC to identify the APTT shareholders and submit information on them to the commission as soon as possible.
It added that TBC would be required to follow regulations governing the investment fund set by China and the Fair Trade Act (公平交易法).
“The commission made investments from China, Hong Kong and Macau a crucial item when it reviewed changes to TBC’s overseas investment structure,” the statement said.
“TBC was told that it was supposed to inform both the Singapore Exchange, as well as the NCC, when changes in the number of beneficiary certificates of the fund exceed 5 percent. Should APTT want to change its trust fund manager, it would need to file a new application with the NCC and follow the relevant laws in Taiwan,” it said.