Operations come to halt at VOD firm Anytime

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SINGAPORE -- Operations at Asian VOD company Anytime have come to a halt following mass resignations and allegations of multimillion-dollar debt, company co-executive chairman Andrew Yap said Tuesday.

A major corporate restructuring is under way after the company was unable to raise the funding required to continue current operations, he said.

Yap said the restructure, which involves talking to new investors, is scheduled to be complete by mid-December, but he did not disclose costs or proposed figures for investment.

U.S. studios that have invested in the seven-year-old company are Sony Pictures Television International, 20th Century Fox, NBC Universal and Warner Bros. All supply programming to the platform, which has affiliate partners in Australia, Taiwan, Thailand and India.

Other investors include Intel Capital and the Macquarie Bank Group, along with the Singapore-based YTC Group, owned by Yap's family.

In addition to licensing deals with the studio investors, Anytime has a pact with Disney ABC International Asia Pacific which covers titles from Walt Disney Pictures, Touchstone Pictures and Miramax Films.

Yap said the company's financial statements, network servers, encoding equipment and tapes have been moved to new premises. This was because agreement could not be reached with the landlord on six months of back rent that was due.

"We will continue to move what we can to preserve company assets from being seized by the landlord today," Yap said.

"I am not sure what option is left for Anytime other than creditor-led voluntary liquidation. However, let's see what the counsel has to say about this," he added.

Resignations include Anytime president and chief executive, Craig Zimbulis, along with senior programming vp Tony Manton, vp marketing and communications Peter Lorimer, CFO Robin Payne and chief technical officer Craig Ginsberg.

Yap confirmed the resignations, and said there will be no changes to the current platform deployments, including with Fairfax Digital in Australia.

Sources close to the company believe three of the four studios had asked Anytime to take their content down following unpaid rights fees, they said Tuesday. The amounts are believed to total about $8 million.

SPTI and Disney declined comment on their relationship with Anytime. 20th Century Fox did not respond to requests for further information.
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