HK court rules for Malaysian billionaire T. Ananda Krishnan in case against Lippo

Mr T. Ananda Krishnan has won the latest round in a long-running legal battle with a unit of Lippo.
Mr T. Ananda Krishnan has won the latest round in a long-running legal battle with a unit of Lippo.

Malaysian billionaire T. Ananda Krishnan has won the latest round in a long-running legal battle with Indonesia's Lippo group. A court of appeal in Hong Kong last month stymied a bid by Lippo's PT First Media TBK to lodge a further appeal against an earlier ruling.

The saga began in 2010 after the failure of a joint pay-TV venture between Mr Krishnan's Astro group and Indonesian tycoon James Riady, of the Lippo Group.

The dispute went to an arbitration panel in Singapore, which ruled that Lippo units should pay Astro about US$130 million (S$182 million). Lippo's First Media challenged this and scored a big victory in 2013 when the Singapore Court of Appeal ruled that the units need pay only about US$700,000.

In 2010, before this ruling, Astro had asked a Hong Kong court to enforce the Singapore award and seize any Hong Kong-based assets linked to First Media.

First Media initially believed it did not have any assets in Hong Kong, so did not challenge the order within the stipulated deadline.

But in 2011, Astro successfully applied to garnish US$44 million in assets from AcrossAsia, a Hong Kong-listed affiliate that owed the money to First Media.

That prompted First Media to apply to get an extension of time so it could challenge the order - around 14 months after the deadline had passed.

That began a series of legal gambits by First Media to try and overturn this order, including one in January asking that it be allowed to make its case at Hong Kong's Court of Final Appeal.

But the three judges in the Court of Appeal said they were not convinced that there were "questions of great general or public importance" to merit a further appeal.

The court also noted that First Media's case had been considered at two levels in Hong Kong - the High Court and the Court of Appeal.

Justice of Appeal Susan Kwan said that First Media's application for permission to go to the Final Court of Appeal "is an attempt to persuade a third tribunal to exercise the discretion differently".

"We do not think the contentions are reasonably arguable."

First Media was ordered to pay HK$109,686 (S$19,818) in costs.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 12, 2017, with the headline 'HK court rules for Malaysian billionaire in case against Lippo'. Print Edition | Subscribe