Singapore Court Cuts Astro’s Award by 99.7 Percent

Astro group, controlled by Malaysian billionaire Ananda Krishnan, will get less than 0.3 percent of the $250 million it had sought from Lippo group for a failed pay-television venture, Singapore’s highest court ruled.

Lippo units PT First Media and PT Ayunda Prima Mitra are required to pay about $700,000 to five units of Astro, a three-judge panel of the Singapore Court of Appeal decided yesterday. The ruling overturns a judge’s decision last year that upheld the $250 million arbitration award.

Eight Astro units had sued three units of Lippo to enforce the arbitration award in Singapore. Three of the Astro units, which were claiming the bulk of the amount, had no arbitration agreement with First Media and therefore no award could be enforced, Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon wrote on behalf of the panel in the 119-page ruling.

“First Media is grateful for the decision,” said Edmund Kronenburg, a lawyer for the Indonesian group.

Tammy Toh, a spokeswoman for Astro, didn’t immediately reply to an e-mailed request for comment on the ruling.

First Media and Ayunda Prima were ordered to pay the remaining five Astro units $608,177, 22,500 British pounds ($36,000) and S$65,000 ($52,000), or about $700,000 in total.

Krishnan, who has a net worth of about $8.9 billion according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, and Lippo set up the TV venture in 2005 and went on to do deals including in telecommunications. Lippo, founded by Indonesian tycoon Mochtar Riady, have faced off in courts in U.K., Indonesia, Malaysia, Hong Kong and Singapore over the failed venture.

Krishnan’s Astro All Asia Networks had said it ended the venture in 2008 after the Lippo partners failed to pay 805 million ringgit ($254 million) in bills.

The cases are PT First Media TBK v Astro Nusantara International BV, CA150/2012, and Astro Nusantara International BV v PT Ayunda Prima Mitra, CA151/2012. Singapore Court of Appeal.

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