ATV shareholder's bid for supervisor unusual, says judge

Taiwan tycoon withdraws bid for now after being told there are other ways to seek redress

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 15 June, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 15 June, 2013, 4:06am

A judge yesterday described as "unusual" an ATV shareholder's application to have an independent supervisor appointed to the station's board of directors amid allegations of mismanagement.

Mr Justice Jonathan Harris was referring to the application lodged by Taiwanese snack tycoon Tsai Eng-meng, who said he was worried that the station might lose its licence because of "messy management" that often landed it in the news.

The application is through Antenna Investment, a company partly owned by Tsai. Harris said it was unusual for a court to be asked to deal with an application for appointment of an interim manager to a board. "What struck me while reading the summons was that the relief being sought was not normal relief," the judge said in the Court of First Instance.

He said if a shareholder felt he was unfairly prejudiced by another shareholder he usually would ask for a buyout. Antenna is jointly owned by Tsai's San Want Media Holdings with businessmen Payson Cha Mou-sing and Johnson Cha Mou-daid.

A lawyer for ATV, Victor Joffe QC, said there were only a few precedents - in Australia - where an interim manager had been appointed. An application seeking the appointment of a permanent supervisor to a board was even more unusual.

Joffe also said Tsai should consider whether other shareholders would join the proceedings because their interests were likely to be affected.

In light of comments, Charles Manzoni SC, for Tsai, said they would not proceed with the interim application. The application to appoint a permanent manager will be heard on November 11. The judge set a case management conference for July.

In November, granting Tsai's permission to file the application, Mr Justice Aarif Barma said in the Court of First Instance that there was an "arguable case".

In November, San Want accused major investor Wong Ching and his relative James Shing Pan-yu, ATV's executive director, of mismanagement.

It also accused the pair of trying to keep other stakeholders out of the company's affairs.

"San Want believes that if the misconduct and mismanagement of ATV were to be allowed to continue, ATV is at a real risk of losing its licence," it said.