Hong Kong superstar Andy Lau is being sued by his partner in Team Work Corporation - CCT Telecom Holdings - which claims it lost $19.6m (HK$153m) when he backed out of an unanimous decision to float the company.
A CCT subsidiary, Noble Trend International, made the claim in a 34-page writ against Lau, a Lau-controlled company - Ablegate Group Limited - and Team Work Corp managing director Winson Chan.
According to the writ, both parties agreed to float Team Work on Hong Kong's Growth Enterprise Market, as soon as market conditions were favourable, and listing proceedings were started this January. In February, CCT signed a conditional agreement to sell a 48% stake in Team Work to an unnamed mainland company for $19.6m (HK$153m). However, CCT claims the deal fell through when Lau changed his mind about the listing in mid-April.
The writ also claims that the defendants breached a shareholders' agreement by signing distribution and co-financing deals for several films without seeking CCT's approval. Titles mentioned in the writ include Dance Of A Dream, Fulltime Killer, A Fighter's Blues, Love On A Diet and Fat Choi Spirit.
Indeed, Teamwork Motion Pictures (TMP) secured a German theatrical release for Fulltime Killer (pictured)- starring Lau and directed by Johnny To - at last week's FilMart. Austrian distributor United Dragons International snapped up German-speaking rights to the film which it plans to release in mainstream theatres in September.
In addition, Lau also allegedly broke an agreement not to participate in any competing business by starring in Needing You and Wesley's Mysterious File for China Star Entertainment.
CCT is seeking $19.6m (HK$153m) in damages, plus an injunction to restrain Lau from further breaching the shareholders' agreement. According to CCT's lawyers, Lau, who resigned as a director of Team Work Corp on June 4, has yet to officially respond to the writ.
Lau founded producer-distributor Teamwork Motion Pictures (TMP) in 1994 and expanded the company through a joint venture with CCT in January 2000. Apart from TMP, Team Work Corp also owns Topman Holdings, set up to hold intellectual property rights, and management company Topman Global.
At least two Team Work productions, which were scheduled to start shooting this summer, have been put on hold as a result of the dispute. One of these, City Romance, is a romantic comedy to be co-produced with Hong Kong powerhouse Media Asia. The other, Killing Me With Love, is a co-production with fledgling studio Celestial Pictures.
Lau isn't the only Hong Kong star to be currently embroiled in legal difficulties. Stephen Chow's production company, Star Overseas, launched a legal battle in April against the co-producer of mega-hit Shaolin Soccer, Universe International Holdings.
A high court writ alleges Star Overseas did not receive its share of the $1.5m that Miramax Films paid Universe for worldwide rights to the film. Universe issued a counter action claiming that Chow signed licence agreements for a video game and a series of comics based on characters from Shaolin Soccer, without gaining its approval.