Sikder brothers' CNNMoney to go bankrupt

Sikder Group MD Ron Haque Sikder (L) and brother Dipu Haque Sikder
Sikder Group MD Ron Haque Sikder (L) and brother Dipu Haque Sikder
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CNNMoney Switzerland (CNNMS) will cease operations and file for bankruptcy after the coronavirus pandemic hit revenues. Its board of directors came to this decision after revenues declined as business partners hit by the crisis cancelled or postponed contracts, Reuters reports quoting the Swiss business media company.

There are four directors of CNNMoney Switzerland. Three are from Bangladesh. They are Rick and Ron Haque Sikder, sons of Sikder Group chairman Zainul Haque Sikder, and Samir Ahmed, founder and chairman of RSA Capital. Earlier, their names appeared on the CNNMoney Switzerland website, but recently have been scraped from there.

CNNMS was launched in Switzerland in January 2018. It earned 150,000 subscribers on an average per month. The channel had signed a contract with US-based TV channel CNN and broadcast business news. It had two studios, one in Zurich and the other in Gland. The channel has 25 employees including media workers and anchors.

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The website of CNNMS has not been updated since 14 August. On 17 August, the channel shared its decision on Twitter through a notification saying the first Swiss national English language business channel is going to cap its activities after two years and eight months. The board of directors unanimously decided to file for bankruptcy.

Audience figures for the company’s audiovisual programmes rose sharply over the past six months, revenues contracted as business partners hit by the crisis cancelled or postponed contracts, it said.

Contacted via LinkedIn, CNNMS’s deputy editor in chief Hannah Wise, said they are not creating any new content.

CNNMS came to the spotlight in Bangladesh in June after a case was filed against Sikder Group managing director Ron Huq Sikder and his brother Dipu Huq Sikder for attempt to murder of two Exim Bank officials.

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CNNMS had been one of several businesses of the Sikder family in abroad. After the news was published in Bangladesh media, questions regarding the ownership of the channel appeared in the international media too. Sikder family’s wealth, its bond with the government and the bothers’ leaving Dhaka by air ambulance as ‘patients’ raised question.

After that, many institutions of Switzerland broke trade ties with the channel forcing it to close down.

During the escape of one its directors in the guise of a patient, CNNMS said in a statement that the institution has nothing to do with the personal affairs of a director with a minor share in the channel. The company will take a decision following court decision in the matter, it added.

On 25 May, Ron and Dipu left the country as ‘patients’ after a case was filed against them with the Gulshan police station on 19 May. The murder attempt took place on 7 May.

Sikder family amassed wealth across countries including the UK, US, United Arab Emirates, Thailand, Singapore and Switzerland. They owned companies or invested huge capital in businesses there. The source of the investment is questionable.

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