Oz’s Village wants to sell HK pix stake

$43-mil deal needs founder's nod

SYDNEY — Australia’s Village Roadshow has agreed to sell its 34.7% stake in Hong Kong’s Golden Harvest Entertainment to Hong Kong-based Lai Sun Hotels Intl. for HK$304.3 million ($43.4 million).

Deal is conditional on the approval of GHE chairman-founder Raymond Chow, who owns about 32% of the publicly traded exhib-distrib. (Chow’s privately held film production banner is a separate entity.) Chow has told the Golden Harvest board he is considering the proposal.

Village Roadshow revealed its interest in selling its shares last month after buying Golden Harvest’s 25% stakes in Village cinemas in Thailand and South Korea.

As part of that restructuring, Village Roadshow gained management control of its remaining exhib co-ventures with Golden Harvest in Singapore, Hong Kong and Malaysia.

At the time, VR officials suggested there was no longer any strategic need for the company to retain its investment in GHE.

Village Roadshow managing director Graham Burke said Wednesday: “We have a great relationship with Golden Harvest; they have helped us establish a footprint in Asia and understand how to do business across the region. However, Village Roadshow is now totally focused on its core businesses of exhibition, production, radio and theme parks, and continuing to hold shares in Golden Harvest is not consistent with our plans.

“This transaction will allow Village Roadshow to divert its resources into territories such as South Korea and Greece that are showing enormous potential.”

Chow intends to concentrate on producing and distributing Chinese-language films. The Lai Sun Group, which owns hotels in Asia and North America, recently announced its move into e-commerce by buying a 50% stake of hkatv.com from Hong Kong broadcaster Asia Television.

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