Next Media is in a strong financial position after selling its loss-making television business in Taiwan and can take its time in negotiating the price of its print assets with potential buyers, industry insiders say.
Jimmy Lai (his Chinese name is Lai Chee-ying) is a Hong Kong-based entrepreneur formally best known for his high profile as the founder of Giordano, one of Asia’s biggest retailers. Born in China in 1948, Lai came to Hong Kong at the age of 12. Lai invested in a bankrupt garment factory, Comitex, in 1975, which he built into Giordano, which he sold in the 1990s after his criticism of Chinese human rights abuse prompted retaliation against his retail group. In 1995 he founded Apple Daily and his Next Media group is one of the most successful of its kind in the region. Next Media is known for its support for democracy and criticism of China, prompting some companies with ties to avoid advertising with publications in the group. While the group has been hugely successful with its media operations, it made a rare misstep by entering Taiwan’s saturated broadcasting market and in October 2012 agreed to sell its loss-making Taiwan TV unit to Lien Tai-sheng, owner of Taiwan’s Era Television and to terminate its video-on-demand (VOD) services at the end of the month.