HK lawmakers to look into PCCW share sale

Hong Kong lawmakers plan to hold a hearing next month on Richard Li's decision to sell most of his stake in local phone operator PCCW to financier Francis Leung, a legislator, quoted in an Associated Press report, said.

The report said lawmaker Albert Cheng and his colleagues were concerned whether the transaction hurt minority shareholders' interests, whether Leung was backed by other investors who might create a telecom monopoly, and if the deal was influenced by political pressure from China.

The announcement of the share sale came after two foreign groups, Australia 's Macquarie Bank and US investment firm Texas Pacific Group and its Asia-focused unit Newbridge, had bid for PCCW's core telecom and media assets, the report said.

Chinese state-owned phone operator China Network Communications, which owns 20% of PCCW, opposes any asset sale, saying it does not want to see telecom infrastructure on Chinese soil falling into foreign hands.

Instead, Li, the younger son of Hong Kong's richest man Li Ka-shing, said he planned to sell 23% of his 26% stake in PCCW to Leung for HK$9.16 billion ($1.2 billion).

Cheng said lawmakers planned to invite local financial officials and telecom regulators to attend the planned joint hearing by the legislature's information technology and financial affairs panels, which would not be held until at least August 4, the report said.