ATV - Asia Television Limited

Tsai wins right to ATV papers

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 17 September, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 17 September, 2011, 12:00am

Troubled Asia Television lost a lawsuit yesterday that was launched by one of its own directors.

The Court of First Instance ordered ATV's top management to release finance and operations documents to its board of directors.

ATV director Kevin Tsai Shao-chung, who was appointed by his father, Taiwanese snack tycoon Tsai Eng-meng, launched the lawsuit to gain access to the documents denied him for more than a year.

However, after the judgment, lawyers for ATV immediately applied for permission to appeal against the ruling and asked for a delay of the order to disclose the documents.

Mr Justice Aarif Barma agreed to delay his order for two weeks to allow ATV to prepare its appeal application to the Court of Appeal. The court will then decide on whether the inspection order can be delayed further.

Kevin Tsai was suing the broadcaster, its executive director James Shing Pan-yu and ATV Secretarial Company Limited.

In court yesterday, barrister Charles Manzoni, for Tsai, said there had been no meetings of the board of directors since November last year.

He said that director Peter Brown also expressed concern that he only knew of a Broadcasting Authority investigation into the station's management from news reports, signalling a blockade of information from the station to its directors.

Manzoni also said Shing was working under the instruction of mainland tycoon Wong Ching. Manzoni said: 'Wong seems to control the company and he excluded Mr Tsai.'

On August 1, the Broadcasting Authority said it would investigate Wong's role in ATV's management following public complaints.

But Anson Wong, for ATV, argued that Tsai should not have access to the documents because he had been misusing the document for 'improper purposes'.

Wong said Tsai had been supplying ATV's internal documents to his father for his father's legal action against other shareholders to 'exert his power over' ATV.

Tsai Eng-meng owns 49 per cent of the voting shares of Antenna, which controls more than 47 per cent of ATV.

The judge ruled that the documents should be made available to Tsai for him to discharge his function as a director. He said it was not improper for Tsai, appointed by Antenna, to pass the ATV's information to the ultimate shareholder.

Under the order, ATV should provide accounting records and documents concerning its affairs, board papers and correspondence between ATV and the Broadcasting Authority that had been withheld from Tsai since August last year.

The documents should include information about the identity of ATV's creditors and information related to the alleged bidding and acquisition of land in Beijing by the station and details of the land.

The financial reports should also disclose the station's net asset value and whether it registered a deficit in the past financial quarter.