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TV Giant Gets Shares for Debt
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TV manufacturing giant Sichuan Changhong Electric Co Ltd has taken a 29.9 percent stake in China Data Broadcasting Holdings Ltd from its former US distributor, Apex Digital Inc, as part of Apex's payment for US$170 million in debt.


The Sichuan-based producer said it has received 95.37 million shares in the Hong Kong-listed China Data Broadcasting - a company which Apex acquired in May 2003, at 72 Hong Kong cents (9 US cents) a share via the transfer, according to a statement posted on the Shanghai Stock Exchange yesterday. The payment totaled US$8.8 million.


"The good thing is Changhong will have direct access to the Hong Kong market via the stake transfer, which will help its future expansion," said Zhang Qi, analyst at Haitong Securities Co.


"But even with the transfer, the Sichuan producer is still not the biggest shareholder in China Data broadcasting, which means it still needs to get approval from the board of directors if it wants to issue new equities to raise money from the Hong Kong market."


Apex Digital holds a 51.95 percent stake, and Apex Chairman Ji Longfen holds a 18.14 stake in China Data Broadcasting, according to CDB's 2005 annual report released last month.


Changhong has been in a dispute with Apex Digital since 2004 after the US distributor failed to pay the producer US$457.6 million in bills.


The Sichuan firm in December 2004 filed a lawsuit against APEX in a Los Angeles, California, court for not repaying the debt.


The two companies, which started partnership in 2001 to sell low-end TVs made by Changhong in the US market, signed a settlement agreement in April this year to end the lawsuit and fixed the debt payment at US$170 million.


"The payment, still in process, also includes cash, brand transfer and future restructuring of China Data Broadcasting," Changhong said yesterday in the statement.


APEX has given its Apex and Apex Digital brands to Changhong to cover part of the company's debt.


(Shanghai Daily October 11, 2006)


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