PCCW to face watchdog in privatization rematch

Court grants Securities and Futures Commission right to review deal

HONG KONG -- A Hong Kong appeals court on Wednesday ruled in favor of the city's securities watchdog in its effort to block the HK$2.2 billion (US$283.8 million) privatization of phone company PCCW Ltd. in a deal led by its largest shareholder, Richard Li.

The court said it granted the Securities and Futures Commission the right to review the PCCW privatization.

The ruling overturns an April 6 High Court decision, which found nothing irregular and no strong evidence of coercion of minority shareholders, who had accepted the offer by Li's group of HK$4.50 per share, sweetened from HK$4.20.

The privatization is being made through Li's Pacific Century Regional Developments and Netcom of the Beijing-backed China Unicom group. Along with telecom services, PCCW is one of Asia's most successful IPTV operators through its NOW network.

PCCW stock has been suspended since the start of the appeal hearing on April 16.