Next Digital trading halted after Jimmy Lai's assets frozen

Monday, May 17, 2021 | The Associated Press

Jimmy Lai
In this Feb. 1, 2021, file photo, democracy advocate Jimmy Lai leaves Hong Kong's Court of Final Appeal where the government is arguing against allowing him bail in Hong Kong. The Hong Kong stock exchange on Monday, May 17, 2021, halted the trading of Next Digital shares, days after authorities froze assets belonging to its founder Jimmy Lai.(AP Photo/Vincent Yu, File)

HONG KONG (AP) — The Hong Kong stock exchange halted trading of Next Digital shares Monday at the media company's request after authorities froze assets belonging to its founder, Jimmy Lai, who has been a high-profile voice in the the territory's pro-democracy movement.

Later in the day, the media tycoon and nine other pro-democracy activists pleaded guilty to taking part in an unlawful assembly in 2019. Lai is already serving a 14-month sentence for his role in two other unauthorized assemblies during a period when Hong Kong residents were involved in mass anti-government protests.

Next Digital said in a filing that it requested the trading halt after authorities announced the freeze on Lai’s assets Friday under a national security law that critics say is meant to snuff out dissent in the semi-autonomous Chinese territory. Next Digital publishes pro-democracy tabloid Apple Daily, and the company was founded by Lai, who owns a 71% stake and is its controlling shareholder.

The freezing of Lai's assets raises questions about Next Digital's survival as a company. Advertisers have become wary of Apple Daily's staunch, pro-democratic stance in Hong Kong, adversely impacting its revenue as authorities crack down on dissenting voices in the city at the urging of leaders in Beijing.

Hong Kong security minister John Lee dismissed concerns that the freezing of Lai's assets was an attack on press freedom and said that under the national security law, he is able to freeze assets if there are reasonable grounds to suspect they are related to offenses that endanger national security.

“The action that we have taken is acting in accordance with the laws to tackle crimes that are endangering national security. It’s not directly related to journalism,” he said to reporters Monday.

“It is illegal activities that we are dealing with. It is not press work. In regard to timing for my issuing of notices, I will issue it when I have reasonable suspicion that the power should be exercised,” Lee said.

Last week, the Taiwan Apple Daily newspaper said it would stop publishing a print edition. The paper said it had been losing money, and Next Digital could no longer support it because “pro-China forces” had blocked access to advertising for its flagship Apple Daily newspaper and other publications in Hong Kong.

Lai and the nine others who pleaded guilty over an October 2019 demonstration can make mitigation pleas on May 24 and the sentences are to be handed down on May 28. They face up to five years' imprisonment.

The mass protests started over a proposed extradition bill that many saw as an infringement on the freedoms Hong Kong was promised when it was handed over from British to Chinese control in 1997 and then evolved to include broader demands for democracy. After months of protests and sometimes-violent clashes between security forces and protesters, Beijing began tightening its control over the territory.

Last year it imposed a new national security law on the city that is widely seen as giving authorities a way to crack down on dissent that was previously legal. The law broadly criminalizes secession, subversion, terrorism and foreign collusion, and police have arrested more than a hundred people under the legislation.

Lai is under investigation by the national security department for allegedly colluding with foreign powers and endangering national security.

In recent months, Hong Kong police have arrested most of the city’s pro-democracy activists and have put prominent activists such as Joshua Wong and Agnes Chow behind bars. Most of the pro-democracy activists arrested are still in police custody.

Featured Article: What are momentum indicators and what do they show?


7 Undervalued Stocks That Deserve More Attention

With the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) hitting new highs seemingly every day, it may seem like the wrong time to be looking at undervalued stocks. Or is it?

From cannabis to cryptocurrencies, and let’s not forget electric vehicles the market seems to be blowing bubbles wherever you look. And that’s why now may be exactly the right time to zig while the market is sagging. And that means looking for undervalued stocks.

But finding undervalued stocks is subjective. Some analysts use specific fundamental metrics. Others use technical analysis.

However, the general idea is that you’re looking for stocks that are trading below their fair value.

In some cases, these may be stocks whose financials are stronger than other stocks in their sector, but it’s trading at a lower price. In other cases, a company may have potential that is not reflected in its stock price. Put another way, undervalued stocks are stocks that have room to grow. That’s why they deserve a place in your portfolio.

And that’s why we’ve put together this special presentation on stocks that are undervalued right at this time. An investment in these companies is likely to be rewarded because the stocks are moving under the radar from the broader market.

View the "7 Undervalued Stocks That Deserve More Attention".


MarketBeat - Stock Market News and Research Tools logo

MarketBeat empowers individual investors to make better trading decisions by providing real-time financial data and objective market analysis. Whether you’re looking for analyst ratings, corporate buybacks, dividends, earnings, economic reports, financials, insider trades, IPOs, SEC filings or stock splits, MarketBeat has the objective information you need to analyze any stock. Learn more about MarketBeat.

MarketBeat is accredited by the Better Business Bureau

© American Consumer News, LLC dba MarketBeat® 2010-2021. All rights reserved.
326 E 8th St #105, Sioux Falls, SD 57103 | U.S. Based Support Team at [email protected] | (844) 978-6257
MarketBeat does not provide personalized financial advice and does not issue recommendations or offers to buy stock or sell any security.

Our Accessibility Statement | Terms of Service | Do Not Sell My Information

© 2021 Market data provided is at least 10-minutes delayed and hosted by Barchart Solutions. Information is provided 'as-is' and solely for informational purposes, not for trading purposes or advice, and is delayed. To see all exchange delays and terms of use please see disclaimer. Fundamental company data provided by Zacks Investment Research. As a bonus to opt-ing into our email newsletters, you will also get a free subscription to the Liberty Through Wealth e-newsletter. You can opt out at any time.