Hong Kong media mogul Jimmy Lai to sell off tabloid magazines

Japan Economic Newswire |

Hong Kong media mogul Jimmy Lai is selling a number of magazines -- including the once top-selling Next Magazine -- to a local businessman, his media group said Monday.

In a statement to the Hong Kong Stock Exchange, listed company Next Digital Ltd. said it is negotiating to sell the group's Hong Kong and Taiwan business interests in Next Magazine, Sudden Weekly, Face, ME! and Next+One for HK$500 million ($64 million) to a company owned by Kenny Wee.

Wee, who earlier this month sold his stake in the free newspaper Metro Daily, has put down HK$10 million in earnest money for the exclusive negotiation right to buy the magazines, according to Cassian Cheung, Next Digital group chief executive officer.

The deal could be concluded by the end of September.

Cheung said Lai has agreed to sell the magazine but is "saddened" over the deal, the Apple Daily, the group's flagship newspaper, reported.

Apple Daily also quoted Wee as saying that he has no plan or the capability to takeover that newspaper.

Battered by falling advertising and subscription revenue in traditional print media and the hostile business environment facing the group because of its liberal stance, Next Digital has recorded net losses the past two years.

The Next Media Trade Union, which represents the editorial staff workers employed by Next Digital, said it is "heartbreaking" to lose Next Magazine and urged Wee to maintain its outspoken style and respect editorial independence.

Launched in , Next Magazine was once the top-selling tabloid magazine in Hong Kong, and covered current affairs, politics, economy and entertainment news. It started publishing a Taiwan edition in 2001.


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