Apple Daily parent company board resigns, plans to liquidate

Sunday, September 5, 2021 | Huizhong Wu, Associated Press

TAIPEI, Taiwan (AP) — The parent company of a defunct pro-democracy paper in Hong Kong, Apple Daily, is liquidating its assets and the board is stepping down, according to a stock exchange filing Sunday.

Next Digital, a publicly traded company, said in an announcement that all members of its board would resign, and that they hoped to liquidate their assets in an effort to pay staff.

The company's shares had been stopped from trading since June and its bank accounts had been frozen. Its most well-known product, Apple Daily, was forced to shut down that month by authorities after five of its editors and executives were arrested as part of a national security investigation.

“This meant the Company could no longer legally pay Apple Daily’s staff, including reporters, and the Company was also banned from paying costs of doing business such as buying ink and keeping the electricity on,” the board said in its statement Sunday.

They added that they hoped liquidators will be allowed by the Hong Kong government to “authorize payments that directors were banned from approving, including for creditors and for former staff.”

The four board members who will resign are: Chairman Ip Yut Kin, Mark Lambert Clifford, Louis Gordon Crovitz and Lam Chung Yan. Their resignations will be effective by 11:59 p.m. local time Sunday, according to the announcement.

Next Digital was founded by tycoon and pro-democracy activist Jimmy Lai. The company publishes a magazine as well as an Apple Daily in Taiwan. Hong Kong's Apple Daily was the company's main paper, growing into an outspoken voice for defending the financial capital's freedoms that were not found in mainland China. On its last day, the paper sold all one million copies.

Lai was arrested by Hong Kong police last year and is currently serving a sentence of 20 months.

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