Richard Li

Richard Li reaches agreement to buy Economic Journal

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 15 July, 2006, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 15 July, 2006, 12:00am


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Richard Li Tzar-kai, who last week agreed to sell most of his shares in PCCW, has reached an agreement in principle to buy the Hong Kong Economic Journal, market sources said.

The sale probably will include the properties in North Point where the paper is headquartered, the sources added.

'Richard Li has reached a sale agreement with Lam Shan-muk for the Hong Kong Economic Journal, although they haven't signed the contract,' a PCCW source said. 'The transaction will be finalised shortly.'

Lam Lok Yau-mui, who owns 95 per cent of the paper with her husband Mr Lam, invited about 30 editorial staff for lunch at Harbour Plaza Hotel in North Point yesterday to celebrate the paper's birthday. It was the first meal Mrs Lam had spent with the paper's editorial staff in the past seven years but she was tight-lipped and gave no hint on whether a deal was concluded, a source who attended the lunch said.

'Mrs Lam said she hasn't received a penny,' the source said.

The sources did not reveal the price Mr Li agreed to pay, although other sources last month said that it was about $250 million.

Mr Li last week said he would sell his 23 per cent stake in PCCW, which was held through Singapore-listed Pacific Century Regional Developments, to financier Francis Leung Pak-to.

Mr Li indicated on Monday night that he had no new plans after selling the stake for $9.2 billion. He will still hold about 3 per cent in PCCW.

Mr Li has said he would take a rest following the sale although he would continue to pursue the purchase of the paper.

'I don't think we will need to invest much in the newspaper operation if the deal is concluded,' he said recently. 'I am really sincere about assuming ownership of the newspaper. I respect the founder Lam Shan-muk very much. I will put lots of effort to conclude the deal and operate the paper.'

Mr Li guaranteed that neither he nor his company would interfere in its editorial operation, sources earlier said. However, he would have control of the sales and marketing operations.

It had earlier been reported that the seller would require the forming of an editorial committee to oversee the independence of the newsroom.

The Journal, established by Mr Lam, a columnist, in 1973, was estimated to have a daily circulation of 30,000 copies at the end of last year.