Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Hong Kong Earthquake: PCCW.

No, this time the waves are caused by humans: they are the three judges of the appeal court in Hong Kong.
Forbes reported today:
Hong Kong court of appeal topples tycoon Richard Li's $2.1 billion buyout bid.
Richard Li Gets Denied On PCCW
Tina Wang April 22, 2009.

Hong Kong seen in better light ©2008 Am Ang Zhang

“In a stunning, and fittingly dramatic, fashion, Hong Kong's court has stymied tycoon Richard Li's tumultuous $2.1 billion bid to privatize telecom giant PCCW. The court of appeal sided Wednesday with Hong Kong's market regulator, which presented evidence of voter manipulation in the shareholder approval of the buyout.”

PCCW is Hong Kong's biggest fixed-line telecom operator.

“The three-member Hong Kong Court of Appeal overturned a lower court's ruling in favor of. ……Hong Kong's Securities and Futures Commission has accused Li of rigging a shareholder meeting by handing out shares to new investors so that they can participate in the shareholder vote on the buyout.”

“A plan by Li, who is the son of the world's 11th richest billionaire Li Ka-shing, to pay himself and Beijing-backed partner
China Netcom (now part of China Unicom ) up to $2.4 billion in cash dividends from PCCW once it was privatized was also plagued with controversy.”

Li Ka-shing is of course involved in the controversy of the naming of the first medical school in Hong Kong after he donated HK$1 billion.

Back to PCCW:
“Earlier this week, a judge on the appeal court, Anthony Rogers, called this scheme ‘outrageous.’ He also suggested that Li's buyout plan takes advantage of minority shareholders, who have been hurt by the dramatic fall in PCCW's share price, from over 120 Hong Kong dollars ($15.48) to over 2 Hong Kong dollars over most of the last decade.”

"A regulation intended to protect minority shareholders, Hong Kong law says a buyout can be approved if a majority of shareholders, regardless of how much stock they own, other than the buyout partners, vote in favour of the deal. Theoretically, majority investors seeking to privatize a company can split their shareholdings among new investors. Hong Kong regulators say that hundreds of insurance agents at Fortis' Hong Kong unit, once controlled by Li, were handed PCCW shares in exchange for votes. The court's decision may boost some momentum for reform of the market regulations that has been discussed for years.”

Mingpao, the influential local paper in its leader column stated that Hong Kong has become the biggest winner as it has demonstrated to the rest of the world that the rule of law, freedom of speech and expression in this little city of China outshone the rest of the world. And the regulator, Securities and Futures Commission, played its definitive role.

Hong Kong related posts:
House M.D. : 95% vs 5%
Hong Kong: Humpback Whale
Adoption Adoption Adoption
Che Kung Temple (chē gōng miào) and the Power of Prayer
SARS and Quorum Sensing

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