All four known bidders for a 10.75 percent stake in troubled Asia Television Ltd. (ATV) have strong ties with Beijing, Apple Daily reported Friday, citing sources with knowledge of the deal.
They are Wang Jianlin, chairman of property developer Dalian Wanda Group Co. Ltd.; David Chiu, managing director of Far East Consortium (0035.HK) and second son of the former ATV owner; Kennedy Wong, chairman of Hong Kong Resources Holdings Co. Ltd.; and Kelvin Wu, chief executive of Crosby Capital Ltd. and owner of music retailer HMV Greater China.
The parties have signed non-disclosure agreements with ATV, the report said, citing sources familiar with the matter.
All four have no experience in running a television business but each could get Beijing’s blessing given their pro-establishment background, according to veteran broadcaster Stephen Chan, former general manager of TVB Ltd., Hong Kong’s dominant terrestrial station.
Wang, who also operates a cinema chain, has the strongest financial resources, Chan said. Also, he is said to be close to President Xi Jinping.
On the other hand, Chiu and Wong could be working for other investors.
Wu has extensive investment experience in the entertainment and cultural sector.
Chan said ATV will need long-term financing and could take up to 15 years to become profitable.
Wong Ben-koon, ATV’s largest shareholder, is selling the 10.75 percent stake and will divest his remaining shares, the report said.
That means a bidder could potentially end up with a controlling stake. Wong owns 52.4 percent of the stock.
But any deal hinges on whether major investor Wang Zheng will accept anything less than the HK$2 billion (US$257.98 million) ATV owes him.
Meanwhile, Beijing’s Liaison Office in Hong Kong has been lining up other potential buyers to ensure a pro-Beijing TV station continues to operate in Hong Kong, the report said, citing unnamed sources.
– Contact us at [email protected]