Hong Kong’s youngest newspaper owner is planning to list his publication business on the stock market next year.
Metro News Media owner Kenny Wee (黃浩) told Ming Pao Daily that Metro Daily, which is distributed free in MTR stations, has been preparing for a listing in the fourth quarter next year after buying the franchise from the Swedish Metro Group for HK$200 million (US$25.8 million) two years ago.
The assets may not include E-Multimedia which hired most of Sudden Weekly’s editorial staff when Jimmy Lai closed it in August after 20 years of operation.
Wee plans to invest HK$200 million in the weekly magazine which reemerged in November as Entertainment Weekly.
The acquisition gave Wee, who owns restaurants and a record company, a stepping stone to a bigger multimedia platform.
He is exploring partnerships with TV stations, cross-media businesses and internet companies in the mainland.
Wee’s moves highlighted an eventful year in the print media industry that started with the closure of Hong Kong Daily, job cuts in Next Magazine and East Magazine and the widely watched sale of the South China Morning Post to Alibaba Group founder Jack Ma.
“Just like the record industry a few years ago, the print media will undergo consolidation in the next two years. The industry will be smaller,” Wee said.
At 43, Wee is the youngest player in a market that includes 15 dailies.
Among the youngest is Richard Li, 49, who owns the Hong Kong Economic Journal (parent of EJ Insight) and the oldest is 92-year-old Robert Kuok who has owned SCMP since 1993. The average age of Hong Kong newspaper owners is 65.
Wee’s Metro Daily flagship is one of five free Hong Kong dailies with a combined print run that easily outstrips those of traditional dailies.
(The others are Headline Daily, am730, SkyPost and the English-language Standard).
Since July, the four Chinese free dailies have posted higher advertising sales than traditional dailies, according to cross-media advertising monitor admanGo.
These free sheets have a 16 percent market share and growing.
Not much is known about Wee, except that he married young model and Miss Hong Kong candidate Suki Chui (徐淑敏) six years ago. They have three daughters.
In 2012, one of Wee’s restaurants was alleged to have been a haven for cocaine-snorting artists.
CCTV footage of purported drug-fueled parties was leaked to the media.
Reports at the time said Wee was being targeted by a TV veteran. The scandal died down.
Wee has contributed a daily column to Metro Daily since he bought out the Swedish interest, writing moderate political commentary occasionally and gushing about food and cars more frequently.
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