Chairman offloads 40m shares after an accumulated gain of 366pc since March Shares in magazine distributor Vertex Communications & Technology Group traded higher in heavy volume yesterday, despite news that its chairman and controlling shareholder had offloaded 40 million shares, or 7.79 per cent of the company, for $23.2 million. The firm, which publishes and distributes the Chinese-language edition of Newsweek, has seen its shares spiral upwards since revealing a sketchy alliance with state-owned power producer China Power International Holding (CPI) in March. Vertex shares jumped 6.15 per cent to close at 69 cents yesterday on a volume of 21.84 million shares, up from 11.54 million on Thursday. Sitting on accumulated gains of 366 per cent since the alliance with CPI was announced on March 29, Vertex chairman and controlling shareholder Steven Poon Kwok-lim sold 40 million shares at 58 cents each on Wednesday, reducing his stake to 55.8 per cent. Mr Poon declined to disclose his reasons for selling the shares, saying it was 'personal business'. Two weeks earlier, CPI chief Li Xiaolin, a daughter of former premier Li Peng, announced the introduction of a third partner - state-owned electricity distributor China Southern Power Grid. China Southern Power is in talks to buy a 30 per cent interest in a joint venture, now 30 per cent held by Vertex and the remainder owned by CPI. The joint venture has the ambitious mission of supplying electricity in Hong Kong as soon as the end of this year. The market is presently controlled by the century-old duopoly of CLP Holdings and Hongkong Electric Holdings. Vertex and CPI have yet to announce a detailed business plan, and neither CLP nor Hongkong Electric is enthusiastic about sharing their power grids. A government-run public consultation this week on the future regulatory framework for the power sector found that a majority of respondents favoured competition. The scheme of control governing the two firms' profits expires in 2008.