The Next Digital group has entered a negotiation to sell the firm which owns the Taiwanese version of its Apple Daily newspaper.

The Next Digital board announced the potential sale of Amazing Sino International Limited in a Hong Kong Stock Exchange filing on Monday.

Apple Daily’s office in Tseung Kwan O. Photo: Kelly Ho/HKFP

Terms of the sale, including the price, are set to be determined after a due diligence exercise, according to the filing signed by Chief Executive Officer and Executive Director Cheung Kim Hung: “[It is] possible that certain restructuring will need to be implemented and only certain parts (if at all) of the Group’s business of Taiwan Apple Daily may be included in the Proposed Disposal.”

However, a source familiar with the matter said they were “highly sceptical of any offer in the Taiwanese market.”

Business and political pressure

On Friday, the founder of the pro-democracy Apple Daily Jimmy Lai was sentenced to 14 months behind bars over a 2019 unauthorised assembly. He is also facing charges over alleged fraud and possible life imprisonment if convicted under the Beijing-imposed national security law.

His paper, which describes itself as “the most outspoken pro-democracy media in Hong Kong,” has faced political as well as financial pressures in recent years. Last August, the Hong Kong newsroom was raided by over 100 police officers.

Next Digital shares closed 2.67 per cent down at HK$0.18 by the close of trading on Monday.

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Tom is the editor-in-chief and co-founder of Hong Kong Free Press. He has a BA in Communications & New Media from Leeds University and an MA in Journalism from the University of Hong Kong. He has contributed to the BBC, Euronews, Quartz, Global Post and others.