Malaysian TV tycoon wins USD 250 million in dispute

Singapore's High Court has awarded Malaysian tycoon of Indian-origin Ananda Krishnan's Astro group USD 250 million in compensation for a failed joint venture with his Indonesian former business partner James Riady.

The High Court, in a decision dated Moday, upheld an arbitration court's earlier ruling in favour of the Malaysian group.

The money was awarded to Krishnan in 2010 by the Singapore International Arbitration Centre, a body set up to settle complex business disputes, after the pair had a falling-out over a failed Indonesian pay-television venture.

Krishnan heads the Astro communications empire of Malaysia, while Riady manages the Lippo Group of Indonesia.

The Asian tycoons joined hands to set up a pay-TV business in Indonesia in 2005 but the venture did not last beyond 2008. Between those years, Astro said it funded the business at the request of Lippo.

Astro sought arbitration in Singapore in an attempt to recover its expenses in funding the failed joint venture.

Krishnan, represented by senior British lawyer David Joseph, argued in court that Riady had to pay the sum because Lippo had missed the deadline for appealing the arbitration centre's decision.

Judge Belinda Ang, in an 86-page ruling seen by AFP on Tuesday, said the arbitration court's award was "final and binding" because Lippo failed to appeal in time.
Ang also dismissed arguments by Lippo's lawyers that the arbitration tribunal lacked jurisdiction over the case.

"Should a losing party decide to hedge its bets (by not appealing)... the disadvantages and risks of this tactic are dire under the International Arbitration Act if the outcome is an adverse award on the merits," she wrote.

Riady is the deputy chairman of Lippo Group, a conglomerate with assets in media and financial services, and the son of the firm's founder Mochtar Riady.

The elder Riady is estimated by Forbes business magazine to be worth $650 million, making him Indonesia's 38th richest man, according to a list issued in November 2011.
Krishnan is Malaysia's second-richest man with a net worth of USD 9.9 billion as of March 2012, according to Forbes. He has interests in communications, broadcasting, oil and gas.

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