Star TV was launched in Hong Kong on 29 September 1990, bringing Hollywood English-language entertainment channels to Asian audiences.
On Friday, 23 July 1993, Richard Li, the 26-year-old son of Li Ka-Shing, the head of the Hutchison Whampoa empire and his high-powered Goldman Sachs advisers took a launch out to Morning Glory, Rupert Murdoch’s yacht anchored off the coast of Corsica.
Li agreed to sell Murdoch a 63.6 per cent stake in Star for US$525m. Li immediately took his private jet to Hong Kong to ensure the Hong Kong and Chinese governments would not block the deal. The Goldman Sachs team was left behind to dot the ‘i’s, cross the ‘t’s and return home under their own steam. By Monday morning, the deal was sealed.
One of the obstacles that stood in the way of News International’s purchase was Malaysian Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad, who opposed Murdoch’s attempts to reject government control of the media.
Mahathir’s anger was exacerbated by the Sunday Times story of a $50,000 bribe by a British company, Wimpey, to assist them in winning a government contract.
This allegation caused a major rift in UK-Malaysian relations and directly affected News International’s ambitions. Mahathir blocked Star TVs ambitions in Asia until a resolution was reached.
Star went on to become one of the region’s leading media and entertainment companies, broadcasting on multiple channels and reaching more than six hundred million viewers.