IN THE HIGH COURT OF THE
HONG KONG SPECIAL ADMINISTRATIVE REGION
COURT OF FIRST INSTANCE
MISCELLANEOUS PROCEEDINGS NO. 3072 OF 2004
Before: Hon Kwan J in Court
Date of Hearing: 15 December 2004
Date of Judgment: 15 December 2004
Date of Handing Down Reasons for Judgment: 17 December 2004
REASONS FOR JUDGMENT
1. This is a petition for confirmation of reduction of share capital presented by Hong Kong Cable Television Limited (“the Company”)under section 59(1) of the Companies Ordinance, Cap 32.
2. The Company was incorporated on 28 April 1992 and changed its name to the present name on 29 October 1998. It is a private companyultimately owned by The Wharf (Holdings) Limited. The principal activity of the Company is the development, establishment and maintenanceof a cable television network and other telecommunication services, as permitted by the terms of its licences from the governmentof Hong Kong.
3. The present authorised capital of the Company is HK$4,677,266,000.00, divided into 4,677,266,000 ordinary shares of HK$1.00 each,all of which have been issued and are fully paid or credited as fully paid. Save for one share held by Wharf (Nominees) Limitedon trust for Cable Network Communications Limited (“Cable Network”), all the other shares are held by the latter.
4. There is provision in the Articles of Association that the Company may by special resolution reduce its share capital.
5. By a written resolution of the Company dated 19 November 2004 signed on behalf of all members of the Company in accordance withsection 116B of Cap. 32 and article 76 of the Articles of Association, it was resolved that conditional on the capitalisation ofcertain indebtedness owed by the Company to Cable Network being effected in full, and on the capital reduction becoming effectiveon the registration of the confirming order and the minute, the issued share capital of the Company be reduced from 4,427,266,000shares of HK$1.00 each to 750,000,000 shares of HK$1.00 each by cancelling paid-up capital to the extent of HK$1.00 per share uponeach of 3,677,266,000 issued shares registered in the name of Cable Network.
6. On 19 November 2004, an explanatory memorandum on the proposed reduction of capital was provided to the registered shareholdersof the Company.
7. Prior to the passing of the written resolution, there was a deficit in the profit and loss account of the Company which amountedto HK$3,677,266,000.00 as at 30 September 2004. It was considered that part of the paid-up capital had been lost and is no longerrepresented by available assets, and that such capital should be cancelled, and by way of cancellation of paid-up capital to theextent of HK$1.00 per share upon each of 3,677,266,000 issued shares registered in the name of Cable Network.
8. Pursuant to the written resolutions of the Company dated 19 November 2004, 3,427,266,000 shares in the authorised capital of theCompany were issued to Cable Network in lieu of repaying indebtedness in the aggregate amount of HK$3,427,266,000.00, representingshareholders’ loans immediately due and payable by the Company to Cable Network. Such indebtedness was capitalised by applyingthe same, on behalf of Cable Network, in paying up in full 3,427,266,000 authorised but unissued shares of HK$1.00 each, which shareswere allotted and issued, credited as fully paid up, to Cable Network.
9. It was proposed to apply the cancelled capital of the credit of the said amount arising in the books of account of the Company towardsthe elimination of the accumulated deficit of the Company. Any balance of the credit arising from such reduction of capital, ifany, would be transferred to a special reserve to be created, such special reserve to be available to be used by the Company forsuch purposes as may be approved by the court.
10. The elimination of the accumulated deficit was designed to ensure that the Company’s balance sheet would more accurately reflectits available assets and that the Company would have a capital structure that would permit the payment of dividends as and when thedirectors should consider appropriate in future.
11. The proposed cancellation of issued and paid-up capital did not involve diminution of any liability in respect of unpaid capitalor the payment to any shareholder of any paid-up capital.
12. The losses to be written off were made up of: (1) accrued operating losses incurred by the Company during the relevant financialperiod; (2) accrued provisions made by the Company during the relevant financial period against, inter alia, bad debts, obsoleteinventory, and diminution in value of certain assets of the Company; and (3) depreciation in value of assets owned or held underfinance and operating leases by the Company. The losses in (2) and (3) were losses of a non-permanent nature.
13. Detailed evidence was adduced of the losses sustained from the financial period ended 31 December 1992 to the financial period endedon the latest management accounts date being 30 September 2004, showing the amount of losses and how they were classified as permanentand non-permanent losses. As mentioned, the accumulated losses up to 30 September 2004 amounted to HK$3,677,266,000.00. Of thisamount, non-permanent losses amounted to HK$1,958,524,266.00.
14. The auditors of the Company have confirmed that the financial information set out in the latest management accounts had been properlyextracted from the books and records and nothing came to their attention that would cause them to believe that the latest managementaccounts were not, except as to the extent as disclosed in note 1(a) thereon, prepared in conformity with the Company’s auditedaccounts for the year ended 31 December 2003. They also confirmed that the net results and movement of accumulated losses, as disclosedin the Company’s supporting affirmation, agreed with the audited accounts and the latest management accounts.
15. For the protection of creditors as at the effective date of capital reduction, the Company has proposed an undertaking in theseterms:
16. On the summons for directions on 3 December 2004, an order was made under section 59(2) to dispense with the settlement of a list of creditors. Directions given on the advertisement of a notice of the presentation ofthe petition have been complied with.
17. I am satisfied on the established principles that the shareholders are treated equitably, the proposed reduction has been properlyexplained to the shareholders, the reduction is for a discernible purpose and the interests of creditors are safeguarded with theundertaking given by the Company.
18. I have therefore confirmed the proposed reduction of capital and made an order in terms of the draft submitted.
Mr Jonathan Harris, instructed by Messrs Richards Butler, for the Petitioner