VisionChina plaintiffs seek US$60m
Venture capital firms Oak Investment Partners and Gobi Partners have asked a New York court to award them US$60 million plus interest in a breach-of-contract dispute against VisionChina Media, a mainland firm that broadcasts advertising-backed TV shows on Hong Kong's Airport Express trains.
The lawsuit stems from VisionChina's alleged failure to pay a US$60 million outstanding fee for its acquisition of Shanghai-based rival Digital Media Group (DMG) in January last year from controlling shareholders Oak and Gobi.
Its merger with DMG helped Nasdaq-listed VisionChina establish China's largest and most comprehensive mobile TV advertising platform on mass transport systems, including subway train and bus networks. The deal required VisionChina to make an initial payment of US$100 million in cash and stock, and two deferred cash payments of US$30 million each in November last year and this month.
VisionChina, however, failed to make the two deferred payments, Oak and Gobi said. Instead, the Beijing-based firm sued the two venture capital firms and other former DMG shareholders in the New York State Supreme Court last December for alleged fraud in supplying false financial data about DMG that duped it into paying a 'grossly inflated' price. It also asked for restitution of all the cash and stock it had paid, compensatory damages and other costs.
Oak and Gobi led a countersuit filed in the same court in February that claimed VisionChina reneged on payments due. They have asked for damages, a motion to attach US$30 million in VisionChina's assets as security for payments due, and dismissal of its lawsuit.
The New York court on November 3 dismissed VisionChina's claims and counterclaims for fraud, unjust enrichment, declaratory relief, and breach of contract. Its only remaining lawsuit is a breach of contract and indemnity claim for US$2.78 million.
The court also granted Oak and Gobi's motion for an attachment on VisionChina's assets. 'We intend to appeal the court's ruling,' Colin Wang,VisionChina's investor relations director, said yesterday. 'We will also continue to pursue our claim and defend against the claims asserted by Oak and Gobi.'
Oak and Gobi said they expected the total damages from their lawsuit against VisionChina to exceed US$90 million. As of June 30, VisionChina reported having US$123.5 million in cash and cash equivalents on hand.