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HK's Next Digital shares to resume trade, working capital enough for 18 months

HK's Next Digital shares to resume trade, working capital enough for 18 months

FILE PHOTO: Media mogul Jimmy Lai, founder of Apple Daily, arrives the Court of Final Appeal by prison van in Hong Kong, China February 9, 2021. REUTERS/Tyrone Siu

HONG KONG: Shares in billionaire Jimmy Lai's Next Digital Ltd will resume trading on Thursday, and the company said it had enough working capital for at least 18 months from April 1 without additional funding from its controlling shareholder tycoon.

Hong Kong's National Security Department had notified Next Digital's chief executive, Cheung Kim Hung, that Lai was prohibited from dealing in assets, including shares in the listed company and bank accounts of three firms directly or indirectly wholly owned by Lai, the publisher said in a statement late on Wednesday.

"The board does not expect the issue of the notice to have an immediate negative effect on the financial situation or operations of the group," Cheung said in the statement.

Next Digital's shares were suspended on May 17 after authorities froze assets of Lai under a new national security law in Hong Kong, while the jailed tycoon pleaded guilty to taking part in an illegal protest in October 2019.

Next Digital's Apple Daily newspaper said at the time the listed company had sufficient working capital for nine to 10 months.

In its statement to the Hong Kong stock exchange on Wednesday, Next Digital said its unaudited bank and cash balances amounted to HKUS$521.4 million (US$67.17 million) as of March 31. It added that it expected cost savings in the longer run as a result of a recent decision to stop publishing Taiwan Apple Daily in print.

Next Digital, in which Lai owns a 71.26per cent stake, also said it did not expect the notice from national security authorities to affect the trading volume of the shares in the company.

Shares of Next Digital last traded at HKUS$0.186 before they were suspended. (US$1 = 7.7629 Hong Kong dollars)

(Reporting by Donny Kwok; Editing by Anne Marie Roantree and Gerry Doyle)

Source: Reuters


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