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August 21, 2017

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Koo inks joint deal to buy Next Media

Taiwanese and Singaporean enterprises have signed a deal with Next Multi-media Entertainment Services Ltd. to acquire ownership of its main Taiwan media outlets.

Entrepreneur Jeffrey Koo Jr. (辜仲諒), son of Chinatrust Financial Holding Co. (中國信託) Chairman Jeffrey Koo Sr. (辜濂松), Formosa Group Chief Executive Wang Wen-yun (王文淵) and a private funds organization based in Singapore have purchased the package including subsidiaries Next Magazine, Apple Daily, Sharp Media and Next TV Broadcasting Ltd. for between NT$17 billion and NT$18 billion, according to local reports.

According to Chinatrust media relations personnel, Koo is not able to invest in media outlets in his capacity as a member of a financial holdings institution, but they would not further explain if he was eligible to acquire ownership as a private entrepreneur.

It was rumored earlier in October that Lien Tai-sheng (練台生), chairman of ERA Communications Co. — a local cable and satellite TV company — had signed a deal to acquire Next TV Broadcasting Ltd. The deal was then halted after rumors emerged that new buyers had surfaced. Koo Jr. reportedly utilized connections with King Pu-tsung (金溥聰) to beat out other opponents in successfully gaining ownership. According to local reports, King, envoy to the U.S., has good ties with Next Media Group Chairman Jimmy Lai (黎智英). Other rumored buyers were Fubon Group and Ruentex Industries Ltd.

This would not be the first time Chinatrust Financial Holding Co. has been involved with businesses in the media industry. It also owns six channels of Videoland Television Network (緯來電視網). Previously, it was connected to China Network Systems and Viva TV.

According to an earlier statement made by Next Media Group, it was plagued by the National Communications Commission's lengthy approval process, as well as its inability to penetrate local TV and cable network markets because of opposition from domestic media companies fearful of increased competition.

As a result, many Taiwanese viewers were unable to watch Next TV, but the group is proud of having generated high-quality TV and multimedia services in Taiwan, the statement said.

Because of Next TV's lack of access to mainstream TV networks, the company decided its next best option was to merge its TV arm with an existing TV network operator, the statement said. The group's decision to sell Next TV and close Next Multi-media Entertainment was made after an evaluation of the future development of the two business entities, it added.

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