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Astro row: Spotlight on Ananda Krishnan

Contributed by Anonymous on Tuesday, October 18 @ 09:38:15 CDT

EconomyThe Malay Mail, Frankie D'Cruz Tuesday, October 18th, 2011 

PETALING JAYA: THE discord over Astro's new satellite dish that reduces signal loss during rainstorms has veered into committal proceedings against the local producer of the parabolic antenna.
AV Asia Sdn Bhd, the company claiming to own the data to manufacture the dish, has sought to commit the group general manager of Tele System Electronic (M) Sdn Bhd, B.Jayaprakash for criminal contempt.
The company, in its application for leave to the High Court to file committal proceedings, named Measat Broadcast Network Systems Sdn Bhd (MBNS) and Tele System as the defendants.


The Kuala Lumpur High Court is expected to hear criminal contempt against Jayaprakash in the first week of November on the grounds that:

* Statements made by him in his affidavits, dated November 15 and December 15 - related to AV Asia's RM1.3 billion suit against MBNS over alleged "leaked" confidential data to produce the new dish - were false and misleading.

* The statements were made with the intention of perverting the course of justice.

Both Astro and MBNS are sister companies under parent company Usaha Tegas Sdn Bhd, owned by billionaire Tan Sri T. Ananda Krishnan.

And the matter could not have come at a worse time for the tycoon, who is also Maxis Communications Berhad (MCB)owner.

India's Central Bureau of Investigations (CBI) has filed a case against Ananda Krishnan, his trusted executive Ralph Marshall, along with former Indian Telecom minister Dayanidhi Maran and his brother Kalanidhi in relation to a charge of criminal conspiracy over a deal involving Maxis and India's Aircel.

Former Aircel chief C. Sivasankaran had alleged that Maran, as then Telecom Minister, favoured the Maxis-group in the takeover of his company.

In return, he claimed, investments were made by the company through Astro network in Sun TV owned by Maran family.

The CBI, in its recent status report to the Supreme Court, had said that during Maran's tenure there was "deliberate delay" to provide letter of intent to Sivasankaran.

The agency had said that after Aircel was sold to Maxis in 2006, investments were made by the Malaysian firm into the family business of Marans.

MCB, that owns 74 per cent of Aircel, has denied any wrongdoing and has said it would continue to co-operate in the investigations.

The company said the acquisition of Aircel was a commercial, arms length transaction between a willing seller and a willing buyer.

Further, it said MCB recently fully successfully defended international arbitration proceedings brought against it by Sivasankaran, whose claims against MCB were dismissed in their entirety.

The row between AV Asia, a local TV support equipment supplier, MBNS and Tele System stemmed from a claim that Astro satellite dishes were manufactured using the former's confidential information.

The company is seeking to restrain Astro operator, MBNS, from further supplying the dishes to its customers.

It also wants to restrain the second defendant, Tele System from further providing the dishes to MBNS.

AV Asia is also seeking to prove claims that MBNS was in breach of a mutual non-disclosure agreement over its rain fade technology by leaking classified data to other satellite providers in a tender exercise.

It claims confidential information was used to launch Astro B.yond, Malaysia's first high definition (HD) television service.

The company argues that B.yond customers, who had a new decoder and a satellite dish installed for a monthly payment of RM20 to receive HD transmission, did not need the new dish.

AV Asia claims MBNS withheld information from its customers that the new satellite dish made using the company's confidential information had a built-in rain fade solution.

Rain fade is a trait of satellite transmission in tropical weather conditions where, during rain, the satellite transmission would suffer interruptions.

Astro's signals are frequently interrupted by rain. AV Asia has said this problem was impossible to completely eradicate but that it could be reduced.

The company said its Japan-based partner Maspro Denkoh Corp developed the rain fade technology.

The Japanese firm is an electronics heavyweight and well known globally in the manufacture and sale of television-related equipment and satellite communications products.

Warring parties

● Plaintiff: AV Asia Sdn Bhd
A KL-based firm in the business of providing television support equipment. A closely-held company, its managing director is V. Vijayakumar.

● For the Plaintiff: Maspro Denkoh Corp
The Japan-based company that was asked by AV Asia to initiate a research and development exercise to manufacture a satellite dish to reduce rain fade for the Malaysian market. In Aug 2008, Maspro granted AV Asia the exclusive rights to manufacture and sell its rain fade product in Malaysia.

● First Defendant: Measat Broadcast Network Systems Sdn Bhd
A subsidiary of Astro All Asia Networks plc, the company enjoys an exclusive 20-year licence for satellite direct-to-home transmission in Malaysia under the brand name Astro (All-Asian Satellite Television and Radio Operator).

● Second Defendant: Tele System Electronic (M) Sdn Bhd
Based in Taman Sains Selangor 1, Kota Damansara, Petaling Jaya, this firm designed the contentious satellite dish that is currently being used.

 
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