Next Media was founded by high profile businessman Jimmy Lai, known for his support for democracy and criticism of China. It introduced tabloid-style journalism into Hong Kong and Taiwan, with the hugely successful Apple Daily. The group made a rare misstep by entering Taiwan’s saturated broadcasting market. In October 2012 it agreed to sell its loss-making Taiwan TV unit and to terminate its video-on-demand (VOD) services, but the deal fell through in March 2013.
Next Media close to finalising sale of assets in Taiwan
Jimmy Lai Chee-ying was expected to complete the sale of Next Media's print and television holdings in Taiwan last night, following the signing of a definite agreement with the buying consortium at a hotel in Macau.
Lai's assistant, Mark Simon, said late last night the two sides were still ironing out the details of the deal.
Next Media, of which Lai is the chairman and controlling shareholder, sold those assets to a group of Taiwanese buyers for NT$17.5 billion (HK$4.6 billion) in cash.
The share price of Next Media, which publishes the Chinese-language Apple Daily in Hong Kong, yesterday rose 4.61 per cent to finish at HK$1.59, as investors anticipated the deal being closed.
The transaction is subject to the approval of Taiwanese regulators.
The parties had scheduled to complete their deal on November 17 but it was delayed because the buying group wanted to add another investor to meet regulatory requirements in Taiwan.
A Next Media source involved in the talks said the new investor, which he declined to name, would serve as "a silent partner" in the consortium.
The three original members of the consortium were Formosa Plastics president Wang Wen-yuan, Want Want chairman Tsai Eng-meng, and entrepreneur Jeffrey Koo Jnr, who signed the memorandum of understanding for the purchase last month.