HK court hears call for PCCW privatisation revote

Fri Apr 17, 2009 1:32pm BST

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HONG KONG, April 17 (Reuters) - An appeal to block the $2.2 billion bid by tycoon Richard Li to take PCCW (0008.HK) private dragged on for a second day on Friday, as the Hong Kong Court of Appeal heard pleas from some minority shareholders for a fresh vote over the intended privatisation.

The hearing over the future of Hong Kong's dominant telecom is set to reconvene on Saturday.

Appeal Court Judge Anthony Rogers called for an extension of the hearing after a few individual minority shareholders presented complaints about irregularities at PCCW's February shareholders meeting, including alleged vote-rigging.

On Thursday, the city's Securities and Futures Commission

(SFC) filed affidavits from two new witnesses that were supposed to boost allegations of vote-rigging. However, the appeal court's panel of judges dismissed the statements as irrelevant.

Trading in the company's shares on the Hong Kong bourse was suspended on Thursday, pending the outcome of the case.

PCCW's majority shareholders -- Li's Pacific Century Regional Developments (PCEN.SI) holding company and Beijing-controlled China Unicom -- have yet to present their arguments to the appeal court.

Li's group last week won a High Court decision allowing their $2.2 billion privatisation bid to proceed, but the SFC quickly filed the appeal to withhold the approval. [nHKG137050].

Li has fallen short in previous attempts to sell PCCW, beset by accusations of vote-rigging and angry minority shareholders.

(Reporting by Nerilyn Tenorio; Editing by Simon Jessop)

((nerilyn.tenorio@thomsonreuters.com; 852-28436441))

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