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August 19, 2009

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Richard Li's appeal in PCCW case thrown out

THE son of one of Asia's richest men suffered another setback yesterday in his effort to buy out Hong Kong's major telecommunications company after a local court blocked him from appealing.

A group led by the company's Chairman Richard Li, son of billionaire Li Ka-shing, attempted to take PCCW private for about US$2 billion earlier this year.

But Li and his allies were forced to bow out of the controversial deal after a court sided with the local securities watchdog, which claimed the shareholder vote approving the buyout offer appeared to have been rigged.

Li sought to appeal the lower-court ruling, but his request was denied yesterday by the Court of Appeal.

The appeal court did not immediately give the reasoning for its decision.

Li can make one last appeal to Hong Kong's highest court. PCCW spokesperson said the company would study yesterday's decision before making any comments.

Applying for the appeal, a lawyer representing PCCW said the appeal to Hong Kong's Court of Final Appeal would be "academic" in nature since the final judgment would not revive the buyout plan.

"The corporate finance community has taken note (of) what is a very important judgment," said lawyer Jonathan Harris.

"It would be appropriate, particularly in an economic community such as Hong Kong, for the Court of Final Appeal to have the opportunity ... to deliberate on the issue and to hand down its own judgment," he said.

But counsel for Securities and Futures Commission Winston Poon argued that the case has no public interest or of great general and public importance that justified the appeal.


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