UPDATE: I'm moving this to the top. Finally heard the reason for the fifth buyer. By adding the fifth buyer, they can separate the print and TV portions of the deal, meaning that the NCC can't impose the same condition of separation of cable TV and print they tried to before. The new deal also reduces Jeffrey Koo Jr's holding to just below the threshold required by the FSC. Next Media, as a friend observed, had the most powerful investigative team in the business. How much longer do you think that will remain true?
Student protests in front of the FTC and the legislative Yuan all day too. But the number is too small to gain international media attention, judging from the photos.
Adventures in Charity, episode #249:
I'm buying tickets at the Chiayi train station on Sunday with a big pile of 100 NT notes. A girl behind me in line leans forward and asks if I could loan her $100. I said sure, no problem, and slipped her a 100 NT note. She then asked me how she could pay me back. "What's your phone number?" "Forget it," I said, "I don't live here. You don't have to pay me back." Suddenly she looked at me crossly. "Hey!" she barked. "What kind of attitude is that?"
I put that tale there because you'll need some light humor to deal with the Next Media deal. A friend summed up the five buyers of Jimmy Lai's Next Media thusly:
- Chinatrust Charity Foundation chairman, Jeffrey Koo Jr.
- Formosa Plastics Group chairman, William Wong
- Want Want China Times Group chairman, Tsai Eng-meng
- Lung Yen Life Service Co. chairman, Lee Shih-tsung
- Taiwan Fire and Marine Insurance Co. chairman, Lee Tai-hung.
Next Media will sell its Taiwan print assets to four investors including Want Want Chinatimes Group President Tsai Shao-Chung, William Wong of the Formosa Plastics Group, Chinatrust Charity Foundation Chairman Jeffrey Koo Jr. and Lung Yen Life Service Corp. (5530) Chairman Lee Shih-tsung, Simon said.The deal requires approval from the Fair Trade Commission, the National Communications Commission, and the Financial Supervisory Commission. Each may find reason to balk. The FSC had objected to Jeffrey Koo Jr's 7% stake in a financial firm (blogged). The Fair Trade Commission may not like the 45% share of the media market it gives the Tsai media operations. The National Communications Commission, you may recall, gave tentative approval but required Tsai to sell off his cable TV operations. Tsai gave the NCC the digitus impudicus, and the case is now in the courts.
Lai, known for criticizing the Chinese government, is exiting most of his Taiwan businesses after battling regulators for licenses and distribution rights. The investment by Tsai, son of Want Want China Holdings Ltd. (151) Chairman Tsai Eng-meng, may raise regulatory concerns as Lai’s Apple Daily and the Tsais’ China Times will have a combined newspaper market share exceeding 45 percent, according to National Chung Cheng University’s Kuang Chung-Hsiang.
Lee Tai-hung, chairman of Taiwan Fire & Marine Insurance Co. (2832), replaces Tsai in the group buying the television assets, Simon said. The pacts were signed yesterday, he said.
The articles in the international media tended to (wrongly) frame the issue as a pro/anti-China affair. For example, the AP article on the deal is solid as far as it goes, but it wrongly characterized the student protests as anti-China when they are pro-democracy. The business publications covering the story pointed out that it is likely that the Tsai-owned media will go soft on China's territorial expansion and other problems, but failed to mention that Apple and Next Media also provide independent coverage of domestic corporate shenanigans, including environmental stories that other media don't publish.
Also, I heard tell of a rumor running around that one of Taiwan's online media outfits, NOWNEWS or ETTODAY, is going to be bought by a Chinese firm. Take with NaCl.....
ADDED: Taipei Times editorial on the sale.
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