ATV changes hands

HONG KONG • The ailing Asia Television, which has seven months left on its broadcasting licence, has changed hands.

The Hong Kong broadcaster announced on Thursday that China Culture Media International has acquired a controlling stake in it and that it has a new director, Chinese tycoon Si Rongbin, said Ming Pao Daily News. Mr Si of Qingdao, Shandong, is chairman of Sino Finance International Investment, the parent company of China Culture Media International.

Ming Pao, quoting unnamed sources, said shareholder Wong Ben Koon had sold his controlling stake for more than HK$400 million (S$72 million).

ATV executive director Ip Ka Po said China Culture Media International reached an agreement with Mr Wong on June 11 to buy his 52.41 per cent stake and has successfully bought 41.66 per cent of the broadcaster's shares.

News of the remaining 10.75 per cent stake will be released later.

The new shareholder will set up and manage a HK$10-billion fund, of which at least HK$5.1 billion will be invested in applying for ATV's new licence.

Mr Ip said the funding was not "red capital". Rather, ATV's future is in Hong Kong, and the broadcaster, backed by the mainland, will have its eye on the world, he said. ATV will add two channels to its current six, and the eight will include a finance channel and an integrated Mandarin channel.

More immediately, the broadcaster will be able to pay wages, said Mr Ip.

More than 10 per cent of the staff had not been paid for last month, a problem that he said would be resolved in a day. He added that wages would increase "far more" in future.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 12, 2015, with the headline 'ATV changes hands'. Print Edition | Subscribe