Update: Taiwan biomedical and cosmetic group Airlee in talk to buy Taiwan Apple Daily
Taiwan Apple Daily scrambles to find a buyer after Hong Kong operations close
Published: Jun 30, 2021 06:18 PM
Next Digital Ltd and Apple Daily logos are display at the headquarters in Hong Kong, June 17, 2021. Photo: VCG

Next Digital Ltd and Apple Daily logos are display at the headquarters in Hong Kong, June 17, 2021. Photo: VCG

Taiwan biomedical and cosmetic group Airlee confirmed that it is in talk about acquiring Next Digital's Taiwan Apple Daily, the Wealth magazine reported on Wednesday citing CEO of Airlee Group.

Next Digital in Hong Kong said that it will most likely sell the asset of Taiwan Apple Daily, with a final transaction agreement is expected to be signed before July 30, according to a statement released by Next Digital to the Hong Kong Stock Exchange (HKEX) on Tuesday.

Analysts said the sale of the asset appears to be "rushed" which could be a "life-saver" for Next Digital after the company's shares have been suspended trading on HKEX and a total of HK$18 million ($2.3 million) in assets was frozen by local authorities.

Next Digital has accepted a non-legally binding proposal made under a letter of intent entered into with a potential purchaser regarding a possible disposal of Amazing Sino International Limited. Amazing Sino and its subsidiaries publish the online edition of Taiwan Apple Daily, read the statement.

An acquisition deal is likely to be signed with the undisclosed buyer before July 30, 2021, according to Next Digital.

"It seems to be rushed. It is incredible to complete a transaction deal within a month. The only explanation is that Next Digital is rushing to resolve its capital inflow problem, as the Hong Kong Apple Daily has shut down due to lack of funds for normal operations," an investor based in Shanghai, who declined to be named, told the Global Times on Wednesday.

"It is unclear at what price Next Digital will sell its Taiwan businesses. But the price is presumably not very high," the investor said.

In another announcement released later on Wednesday, Next Digital said the non-legal proposal included land with an aggregate area of approximately 19,734 square feet (6,166.9 square meters) located in Taoyuan, Taiwan and the five buildings with an area of approximately 17,382 square feet. The trading value of the properties shall not exceed NT$500 million ($17.9 million).

Before the new bidding, Next Digital on April 19 tried to sell its Taiwan media business. However, the sale eventually fell through 9 days later when the company concluded that a non-binding memorandum of understanding (MOU) would not be in its interest and terminated the MOU, according to statements released by the company on HKEX.

Market participants said it was understood that the bid was too low, far from the NT$1 billion originally quoted by Next Digital executives, media reported.

Next Digital closed 3.33 percent lower on June 16 with a stock price of HK$0.29 before it suspended trading on the Hong Kong market. Trading on the HKEX will continue to be suspended until further notice, Next Digital said on Tuesday.