Village, Golden Harvest make peace

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SINGAPORE -- Australia's Village Roadshow and Hong Kong's Golden Harvest Group have kissed and made up after a long-running dispute and "jointly recommitted to making their Golden Village business in Singapore a success," the two companies said Tuesday.

The peace agreement involves the departure of Golden Village managing director Kenneth Tan and ends all legal action pending between the 50-50 joint venture partners.

David Glass, managing director of Village Leisure, will take over as interim managing director. Tan joined Golden Village in 2003. His resignation is effective Jan. 31.

Details of the settlement were not disclosed. A Golden Village spokesperson would only say that "shareholders came to an amicable successful resolution of their differences."

The 15-year-old Golden Village is Singapore's leading cinema exhibitor, with 73 screens across nine sites, including the flagship VivoCity 15-screen multiplex, which opened in 2006.

"Golden Harvest and Golden Village will complement each other in their respective competitive advantages in films distribution and cinema network, and will further expand in the Singapore film market," the two companies said in a statement.

Golden Harvest Group chairman Wu Kebo said he believed that "Singapore offers many opportunities for the two groups.

"At the same time, Golden Harvest is also continuing its efforts in actively developing cinemas and films distribution network businesses in other regions of Asia such as China and Taiwan," Wu said.

Wu also is president of new Chinese powerhouse Chengtian Entertainment Group. Chengtian became Golden Harvest's biggest shareholder at the end of last year when it bought 24.78% of the company for about HK$200 million ($25.6 million).

Tuesday's announcement comes almost three years after Golden Harvest filed a suit in Hong Kong to wind up the Golden Village joint venture in Singapore.

At the time, Golden Harvest claimed Golden Village had suffered corporate governance failures. The suit also alleged that Tan had acted unilaterally in hiking ticket prices and making staff changes.

Golden Harvest also was unhappy with Tan's involvement as chairman of the Singapore Film Society, which it described as a conflict of interest.

The joint venture partners fell out again last year over the terms of Tan's contract. Village Roadshow supported Tan staying on as managing director. Golden Harvest didn't.

Tuesday's announcement comes three years after Phoon Chiong Kit, Golden Harvest's managing director at the time, filed a defamation suit against Tan and the head of Village Roadshow's legal department, Simon Phillipson. That suit was settled out of court in January last year. Phillipson and Tan apologized to Phoon and donated S$20,000 ($14,000) to charity.
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