China Open survives liquidation battle

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 16 April, 2005, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 16 April, 2005, 12:00am

The second edition of the China Open in Beijing will definitely be held this September despite claims of trouble over a liquidation battle, organisers Tom Group said last night.

Tournament director Lincoln Venancio had raised fears that the event could be scrapped after he asked a court to liquidate Tennis Management Limited, a firm he owns with Tom Group.

The application to wind up the six-year-old firm was made to the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court in the British Virgin Islands last Friday. Tennis Management is 40 per cent owned by Venancio, its managing director, and 60 per cent held by the Li Ka-shing-controlled Tom Group.

Venancio holds the ATP rights to stage the China Open but Tom is currently cooperating with Beijing Media Corporation on the tournament.

'I think the China Open will probably be cancelled this year,' Venancio, an 18-year sports management veteran, had said.

However, Wang Sing, Tom Group chief executive officer said last night there is no way that such a big event could be scuppered over a money dispute.

'The Chinese Open in Beijing is a big event for Chinese. ATP tennis is a world-wide sport and China is a big country for such events,' he said. 'Don't even think about using such a small petition to scrap such a big meaningful event. We won't allow that,' Wang added, saying that it would be even more successful than last year.

According to court papers obtained by the South China Morning Post, Venancio alleged that 'the relationship between the parties has irretrievably broken down' and that Tom was frustrated with his managing of the business.

In last year's China Open American Serena Williams defeated Russia's Svetlana Kuznetsova in the final. The tournament replaced Hong Kong's Salem Open on the ATP tour in 2003 but was not held that year because of Sars.