PCCW chief makes personal bid for Hong Kong Economic Journal to get around cross-media ownership hurdle PCCW chairman Richard Li Tzar-kai is in negotiations to buy the Hong Kong Economic Journal for more than $200 million, according to sources. Lam Shan-muk, the founder of the Chinese financial daily and a veteran journalist, and Cho Chi-ming, a financial columnist on the newspaper, hold 95 per cent and 5 per cent stakes respectively of the publication. It is expected both will sell all or part of their interest to Mr Li or other parties. Sources said the initial consideration for the transaction should be at least $200 million. 'Negotiations are at the final stage and the seller has raised the price to more than $250 million and is now waiting for Mr Li's response,' a source said. A media analyst said: 'The consideration is giving a high premium to the daily - a fair value would be $150 million.' The deal was not expected to be concluded before the Lunar New Year as there were still many issues to be dealt with, the source said. One of the conditions of the transaction is that Mr Lam and Mr Cho would continue to write for the daily. 'We have no comment to make on market speculation,' the Economic Journal's chief editor Chan King-cheung said yesterday. Mr Li is rumoured to be making a personal bid for the Economic Journal, unrelated to his 26.52 per cent-owned local fixed-line and pay-television operator PCCW. 'This arrangement will help him over the regulatory hurdle of cross-media ownership,' a source close to PCCW said. 'Since PCCW owns Now Broadband TV, the company is not allowed to own other media interests such as television stations or newspapers.' According to the Broadcasting Ordinance, PCCW Media cannot own other media without express approval from the Chief Executive and the Executive Council. PCCW group managing director Jack So Chak-kwong yesterday dismissed speculation that the company was interested in the paper, saying PCCW had no plans to buy into the Economic Journal. The newspaper, a loss-making business for the past few years, is believed to have a daily circulation of about 20,000. According to data from media buyer Mindshare Hong Kong, the pre-discounted advertising revenue of the daily was $138 million for the first nine months of last year. This compares with $1.5 billion at rival Hong Kong Economic Times. Separately, Mr So said the company was conducting trials of high-definition television for Now Broadband TV among its staff and a soft launch to customers would begin next month. He said the firm hoped to launch the service in the first half this year and it was able to provide 100 hours of content based on the compressed Mpeg-4 format.