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HK Apple Daily confirms Lai's withdrawal from Taiwan market

HONG KONG--Hong Kong media mogul Jimmy Lai has decided to sell his businesses in Taiwan for NT$17.5 billion (US$600 million) and is set to sign the contract with the buyer on Nov. 17, Apple Daily in Hong Kong reported on its front page yesterday.

“I'm going home,” was the headline of the tabloid newspaper Lai owns as part his Next Media Ltd., a listed company in the former British territory.

The Hong Kong daily had rarely speculated on a possible sale since news emerged last month that Next Media was putting its Taiwanese businesses on sale.

With the deal clinched, however, the Hong Kong newspaper splashed its front page with the story proclaiming that “Next Media is fully pulling out of Taiwan's market.”

The paper confirmed reports in Taiwan the previous day that Next Media will sell its operations in Taiwan to a syndicate headed by Chinatrust Charity Foundation Chairman Jeffrey Koo Jr., a former vice chairman Chinatrust Financial Holding Co.

Koo Jr. invited Formosa Plastics Group Chairman William Wong and a Singapore-based equity fund to join with him in buying Next Media businesses Apple Daily, Next Magazine, Sharp Daily and Next TV, the report said.

Lai's Real Estate Holdings Not Included

The NT$17.5 billion deal, however, does not include Lai's real estate holdings in Neihu District in Taipei. The properties are worth some NT$7 billion, the report said.

Apple Daily in Hong Kong also revealed that the two parties will sign the contract by Nov. 17 and will finalize the deal by December.

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Reporters surround Chinatrust Charity Foundation Chairman Jeffrey Koo Jr. in Taipei, yesterday, after the announcement that he will become the new owner of Next Media's Taiwan ...

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