StarTimes at Risk of Liquidation Over $11 million Debt
Satellite Television company, StarTimes, is in a legal web that could force it out of business in sub-Saharan Africa after it reportedly defaulted in paying $11 million for broadcasting rights to Ligue 1, the French football league.
StarTimes was accused of reneging on a deal it signed with BeIN Media Group, which holds the international Ligue 1 rights, in 2018. The pay-TV got the rights to broadcast English and local-language Ligue 1 in sub-Saharan Africa from 2018/2019 to 2023/2024.
Following the deal, payment for the rights became an issue, and the matter was taken to a Hong Kong court, where StarTimes agreed to a monthly payment plan. But the company defaulted on its first installment which was due on October 1. The debt is reportedly $11 million, including interest.
StarTimes had blamed its non-payment of the debt on the tough economic climate in Africa which it said was compounded by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Regardless, BeIN has filed a winding-up order on StarTimes, according to GlobalData. A winding-up order is a legal process by which a company’s assets are sold to pay its debts.
An inside source at BeIN cited by GlobalData said it is worrisome that “an entity facing winding-up proceedings is, in the same breath, parading around the world signing deals with much fanfare.”
“We’ve seen this kind of conduct before and it only ends badly for rights-holders and the industry,” the source quipped.
Reacting to the alleged liquidation order, StarTimes admitted there is an ongoing legal process between the company and BeIN but denied knowledge of any winding-up order.
“Though in Hong Kong, a legal proceeding is on-going to resolve the differences between both aggrieved parties; it’s an ongoing court proceeding and not a court order,” a statement released by StarTimes Nigeria spokesperson, Lazarus Ibeabuchi, said.
Ibeabuchi added that whatever the decision of the court in Honk Kong is, it would have no bearing on StarTimes operations in Nigeria as the Asian court has no jurisdiction over the sub-Saharan region.
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