Hong Kong Economic Times Rejects Calls to Raise Dividend

Hong Kong Economic Times Holdings Ltd. (423) has rejected an investor’s demand to increase dividend payments and said it will need cash to face rising competition in the media.

H Partners Management LLC, which holds a 14.8 percent stake in the company, said in a newspaper notice that the publisher should raise ordinary dividend payments and give a special dividend. Hong Kong Economic Times’s policy on dividends is “fair” and “prudent,” the company said in a statement to the Hong Kong stock exchange today.

The Hong Kong-based publisher’s full-year net income almost doubled last year as the city’s growing economy helped sales rebound to the level before the financial crisis in 2008. The company needs cash reserves for development and to stave off increased competition, particularly from new media, Economic Times said.

New York-based H Partners said the publisher doesn’t need to retain its cash holdings of HK$500 million. The company’s cash level is not “unreasonably high,” Economic Times said in the filing today.

Economic Times advanced 7.7 percent to HK$3.49 in Hong Kong trading as of 2:12 p.m., the highest level since March 2008. The stock has gained 25 percent this year, outperforming the city’s benchmark Hang Seng Index. (HSI) H Partners values the shares at HK$6.64 each, according to the notice.

Hong Kong’s gross domestic product increased 7.2 percent in the first three months of this year, compared with a year earlier.

To contact the reporters on this story: Mark Lee in Hong Kong at wlee37@bloomberg.net; Billy Chan in Hong Kong at bchan101@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Young-Sam Cho at ycho2@bloomberg.net

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