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.
Jeffrey Koo removed as leader of Next Media buyout consortium
Jeffrey Koo replaced as leader of group, while new party enters buyout of print and TV firm
Next Media, a company controlled by Hong Kong tycoon Jimmy Lai Chee-ying, has disclosed more details of the recently agreed sale of the company's Taiwan print and TV businesses to a group of Taiwanese businessmen, after changes in the composition of the consortium.
The sale for NT$17.5 billion (HK$4.66 billion) would net Next a gain of HK$2.28 billion, said the Hong Kong-listed media firm.
Next Media "will no longer be engaged in the print business, as well as television programmes and the sale of advertising in its television operation in Taiwan. The disposal allows the company to focus on profitable operations," Next said in a filing to the Hong Kong stock exchange.
Next's net loss nearly tripled to HK$928.39 million in the six months ended September 30 from a year earlier, mainly due to its television business in Taiwan.
Wang Wen-yun, chairman of Formosa Plastics Group, will lead the buyout with the biggest stake of 34 per cent in the TV and print assets, Next said yesterday.
Previously, the leader of the buyout was Jeffrey Koo Junior, chairman of Chinatrust Charity Foundation. Taiwan's Financial Supervisory Commission had objected to Koo leading the consortium because of the island's rule that bars financial institutions from investing in the media.
Instead, Koo will get 20 per cent of the TV and print assets. He is a grandson of the late Koo Chen-fu, a Taiwanese businessman who arranged the first direct talks between Taiwan and China since 1949 and served as Taiwan's chief negotiator with China in 1993 and 1998. Lee Shih-tsung, chairman of funeral services provider Yung Len Life Service, will acquire 14 per cent of Next's Taiwan TV and print businesses.
Taiwan Fire & Marine Insurance chairman Lee Tai-hung - who was expected to participate in the buyout - was not mentioned as a buyer in Next's announcement yesterday. Instead, an unexpected buyer emerged in the form of Li Jiang-cheng of Yong Sin Development, a Taiwanese company, who will get 32 per cent of Next's Taiwan TV business, which is being sold for NT$1.5 billion.
Tsai Shao-Chung will acquire 32 per cent of Next's Taiwan print business, which is being sold for NT$16 billion, but will have no investment in the TV operations. Tsai is the son of Tsai Eng-meng, chairman of Taiwanese food company Want Want Holdings.