Rejecting claims that a shareholder vote approving the privatization of Hong Kong fixed-line carrier PCCW was rigged, the High Court of Hong Kong has allowed the US$2.6 billion deal to proceed. The decision hands a key victory to Hong Kong tycoon Richard Li, who had attempted unsuccessfully several times over the past few years to divest his PCCW holdings before agreeing in November to team up with China Netcom to purchase PCCW stock they do not already own for HK$4.20 per share. Although shareholders representing more than 75% of PCCW shares voted in favor of the transaction in February, Hong Kong’s Securities and Futures Commission (SFC) called on the court to block the deal after receiving complaints from at least one shareholder that certain Hong Kong insurance agents were offered free shares of PCCW stock in exchange for their support of the deal. Describing the allegations as “merely suspicion, wholly unsubstantiated by evidence,” High Court Judge Susan Kwan ruled in favor of the privatization plan on Monday, proclaiming: “I am satisfied that the shareholders are treated equitably in the reduction, that the proposals for reduction were properly explained, and that the reduction is for a discernable purpose.” SFC officials have promised to appeal.