Next Digital

Apple Daily publisher issues profit warning

Next Media board also says four banks will give Apple Daily Printing a long-term loan

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 13 November, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 13 November, 2012, 3:53am

Next Media, publisher of the Chinese-language Apple Daily, has issued a profit warning nearly a month after the company pulled up stakes in Taiwan.

In a filing with the Hong Kong stock exchange yesterday, Next Media's board of directors said the company was expected to record "a substantial loss" for the six months ended September 30 compared with the same period last year.

The board also said in a separate filing that a syndicate of four banks has agreed to provide a long-term loan facility totalling HK$210 million for subsidiary Apple Daily Printing.

Under the terms of this facility, Next Media chairman Jimmy Lai Chee-ying "will continue to hold directly or indirectly at least 51 per cent of the total issued shares in the company". Lai currently has a 74.05 per cent stake.

Next Media said it anticipated a wider net loss for the six months to September due to the "write-off of certain assets and equipment", following the company's decision to halt operations of its multimedia division in Taiwan.

There was also "further impairment made to the assets and equipment, as well as programme and film rights" of the company's television broadcast operations on the island.

The firm, which is the largest-listed media company in Hong Kong, posted a wider loss of HK$324.017 million in the six months to September last year from HK$76.155 million in the same period in 2010.

Eleven years since Lai established a high-profile media outpost in Taiwan, Next Media last month agreed to sell all its newspaper, magazine and television holdings in Taiwan for NT$17.5 billion (HK$4.68 billion) in cash.

The Taiwanese buyer is Jeffrey Koo Jr, the eldest son of Chinatrust Financial Holding chairman Jeffrey Koo Len-song. Formosa Plastics Group president Wang Wen-yuan and a Singapore private-equity fund reportedly backed Koo's bid.

Lai's assistant, Mark Simon, said Koo made the best offer among many interested groups.

Simon said Lai still had Next Media Animation, various properties and other investments in Taiwan.

Next Media's two regulatory disclosures were made after the close of trading yesterday.