Entertainment tycoon Albert Yeung Sau-shing is ready to make a big acquisition — possibly Asia Television (ATV) — after selling his empire’s magazine arm for HK$950 million.
Yeung signed a memorandum of understanding with Hui Ka-yan of Evergrande Real Estate Group Ltd. (03333.HK) to sell 75 per cent of New Media Group (00708.HK), which owns five popular magazine titles, including Oriental Sunday and Weekend Weekly, to the developer.
As part of the deal, Yeung will buy back 10 per cent of the magazine publisher and a Kwun Tong office for an undisclosed sum.
New Media Group shares surged 188 per cent to HK$1.37 by 11 a.m. in Monday trading thanks to the big premium between the HK$1.467 per share Hui will pay and the share price of 47.5 HK cents before trading was suspended on Friday.
Hui is the latest mainland tycoon to show interest in the media business in Hong Kong. He managed to catch the train just before the start of the Shanghai-Hong Kong Stock Connect cross-border trading scheme on Monday.
Like Alibaba Group’s Jack Ma Yun, his partner in Guangzhou Evergrande Football Club, Hui has been on an acquisition binge.
Evergrande has bought into a wide range of businesses, such as milk powder, solar energy, bottled water — and this time, magazine publishing — to diversify from the now less exciting property business.
The deal has boosted Yeung’s war chest. He has been rumoured to be a suitor for ATV, which is trying to have its license renewed.
But the asking price for ATV was said to be HK$700 million, a price that Yeung might have thought too high before the sale of his magazine company.
He is a natural suitor for ATV and probably the one who has the best prospects of competing successfully with its bigger rival, TVB.
Yeung set up the lucrative Emperor Entertainment Group 15 years ago. It became the cradle for young singers and movie stars such as Nicholas Tse, Joey Yung, Leo Ku and Twins.
Emperor is the largest local group involved in music production, talent management, concert production and movie production.
That is why when Emperor was rumoured to be interested in ATV, its relationship with TVB went sour.
Yeung also runs a newspaper, Hong Kong Daily, one of the 19 dailies in Hong Kong. Although it is not among the most influential papers, it represents a foothold for Yeung in yet another aspect of the media and entertainment business.
Although Yeung is not a director of any of his listed companies, he runs a sprawling empire that includes hotels, jewellery, real estate, a casino, financial services and the entertainment agency business.
Just two weeks ago, one of the stars in his stable, singer-actor Nicholas Tse, became the largest shareholder of See Corporation (00491.HK) by injecting a controlling stake in his profitable Post-Production Office into the film and television producer.
Hong Kong and Guangdong businessmen like Yeung and Hui have fingers in so many pies.
It wouldn’t be surprising if they have an appetite for more.
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