Hong Kong listing of Apple Daily parent company Next Digital to be cancelled

Hong Kong’s Stock Exchange is to cancel the listing of Next Digital, the parent company of pro-democracy tabloid Apple Daily which closed down after a police raid and the arrest of its owner.

Next Digital said it was notified last month of the decision by the exchange’s Listing Committee. The listing will be cancelled as of next Thursday.

Apple Daily headquarters. Photo: Candice Chau/HKFP.

Trading in Next Digital shares has been suspended since June 17, 2021, when hundreds of police officers raided the company headquarters in Tseung Kwan O. Before trading was suspended, the company was valued at HK$764.6 million.

Next Digital and Apple Daily were both founded by media tycoon Jimmy Lai, who is currently on remand pending a national security trial. He could face life imprisonment if found guilty.

The city’s financial chief Paul Chan asked the Court of First Instance in September 2021 to wind up Next Digital, citing “public interest.” The High Court issued a winding-up order in December that year.

The 75-year-old is accused of four offences, including two counts of conspiracy to collude with foreign forces and one count of collusion with foreign forces contrary to the Beijing-imposed national security law.

The media tycoon has also been charged under the colonial-era sedition law over allegedly seditious materials.

Jimmy Lai. Photo: HKFP.

The trial, which began in December, has been adjourned to September, as the court awaited a decision from Beijing on whether overseas counsels not qualified to practice in Hong Kong are allowed to take part in national security cases.

The Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress issued an interpretation last month which essentially gives Hong Kong Chief Executive John Lee power to decide the issue.

Lai is currently serving a five-year-and-nine-month prison term after he was convicted of fraud. The media tycoon was also previously handed a prison term totalling 20 months for protest-related offences.

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