Li clinches HKT deal with $36 bil takeover

Acquisition creates $74 bil media giant

HONG KONG — Despite a last-minute $1 billion move by Rupert Murdoch, Star TV founder Richard Li on Tuesday clinched a deal to buy Cable & Wireless HKT in one of Asia’s biggest takeovers.

Li’s Pacific Century CyberWorks (PCCW), which launched only last April, will pay nearly $36 billion for control of Hong Kong’s dominant telecommunications company. The result, PCCW-HKT, will be a $74 billion media giant with tentacles in everything from broadband Internet access and digital satellite television to a video-on-demand service.

Li, 33, started Star, an Asia-wide satcaster, in 1990. He sold it to News Corp. in parcels in 1993 and 1995 for a total of $950 million.

News Corp. bid

Earlier in the week, News Corp. announced that it would invest $1 billion in Singapore Telecommunications to buck up its faltering bid to buy HKT.

After PCCW won, however, News Corp. backed away from the proposed investment.

The new alignment complicates a relationship that already exists between News Corp. and HKT. Back in November, Star and HKT agreed to make a joint application for a pay TV license in Hong Kong. The venture, as yet unnamed, would marry Star’s content and new interactive digital network with HKT’s video-on-demand service and high-speed Internet access.

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