Hong Kong’s oldest Chinese-language newspaper Sing Pao avoids closure after High Court orders liquidation of parent company

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 12 August, 2015, 11:59am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 12 August, 2015, 11:30pm

The city’s oldest Chinese-language newspaper, Sing Pao Daily News, has narrowly avoided going out of print permanently after the High Court on Wednesday ruled its debt-laden parent company should be liquidated.

Master Reuden Lai Tat-cheung gave the order for Sing Pao Media Enterprises to be wound up after a petitioner reported to the court that the company had failed to repay debts.

Other creditors had no objection to the order.

The court appointed Edward Middleton and Tiffany Wong Wing-sze from auditor KPMG as provisional liquidators for the company last month. On Wednesday Lai told them to take appropriate action within seven days.

But the liquidators announced that “the liquidation of the holding company will have no impact on the  … publication of Sing Pao Daily News and magazines, which are conducted through wholly owned subsidiaries”.

They said a revised offer of investment from company chairman Gu Zhuoheng had been accepted on July 31 to enable the essential operations of the subsidiaries to continue.

In court, Lai revealed that Wong had submitted an affidavit on Tuesday related to the petition to close the firm. But the document “should not be inspected by any party without the leave of the court”, he added, without elaborating.  The petition was submitted by creditor Korchina Culture Investment in April.

Sing Pao published a notice on April 6 claiming a lender had sent a statutory demand notice and that the directors were negotiating with an unnamed independent third party to grant a new loan of HK$110 million.

The paper temporarily stopped printing on July 17 after it failed to pay its printer, but continued operating its website.  It resumed printing last week.

“Everyone is here today and the paper is operating normally,” a Sing Pao staff member said outside the newspaper’s office in Kwun Tong on Wednesday.

Sing Pao was founded in 1939 by Ho Man-fat, who sold it for HK$150 million to Optima Media Holding in 2000.  The paper was sued for failing to pay salaries in 2006 and 2007.

Additional reporting by Frank Feng

Out of print

Hong Kong titles that stopped publishing this year:

  • Hong Kong Daily News, founded 1959, folded July 11
  • Sudden Weekly, founded 1995, folded August 7
  • Sing Pao, founded 1939, court ordered parent company wound up August 12
  • Next Magazine founded 1995, parent company Next Media announced it may fold in September