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H.K.’s Yes hears ‘no’ from partner

CLP Telecom pulls out of joint venture

HONG KONG — Hong Kong’s beleaguered pay TV industry is in dire need of a lifesaving jolt — but it won’t get one from power utility CLP Holdings.

On Wednesday CLP Telecom, CLP’s subsid, pulled out of the joint venture it inked in June with the Hong Kong arm of pay TV firm Yes Television. The news is a blow to U.K.-based Yes, which was relying on CLP’s deep pockets for funding on the long road to profits.

CLP TeleCom, which was to have taken a 75% stake in the venture, blamed a tough climate in the local pay TV industry.

“We do not feel that this is the right moment to enter the pay TV market,” CLP TeleCom managing director Peter Heavyside said in a statement.

The news has shattered Hong Kong’s hopes of developing a competitive pay TV market.

Rupert Murdoch’s Star Group and Hong Kong Network TV, a unit of local Internet firm Sino-i.com Ltd., won licenses 18 months ago to compete with incumbent operator i-Cable Communications, but both pulled out.

Yes — which is thought to have secured another round of funding on the strength of its alliance with CLP — says is still plans to launch a trial of its services next month.

Yes chairman and CEO Thomas Kressner, who must now find another partner, says he was “disappointed and surprised” by CLP’s decision.

(Reuters contributed to this report.)