Shares in Golden Harvest, one of the best known names in the Hong Kong film biz, were suspended from trading Friday.
Announcement to the Hong Kong Stock Exchange said that the company had requested the suspension “pending an announcement relating to the changes in the substantial shareholder and the directors of the company which the board of the company considers to be price sensitive information.”
Move is understood to mean that veteran chairman Raymond Chow Ting-hsing is planning to sell his shares in the company he co-founded in 1970. Chow and his associates own 24% of the company, which became synonymous with Cantonese-language action movies and the discovery of Bruce Lee. In recent years, the company quit production to focus almost exclusively on exhibition and distribution.
Stock market insiders point to Chinese production shingle and talent agency Chengtian, as the buyer of a 20% Golden Harvest stake. Japanese music, talent and film giant Avex has a 20% interest in Chengtian.
Suspension comes only a week after Golden Harvest announced good-looking results that were boosted by exceptional gains from asset disposals.
For the year to June 2007, company announced net profits of $96.5 million ($12.5 million), compared with only $673,000 in 2006. But total included a $15 million boost from the sale of its stake in the Golden Village cinema circuit in Malaysia. Operating losses from Golden Harvest’s distribution and exhibition increased despite revenue gains in both divisions and finance costs soared.
In its recent results statement, management said that the company is being refocused to concentrate on the Chinese exhibition market and that it is expanding its digital screen advertising business into the mainland’s key city markets. It will also be stepping up acquisition of non-Chinese movies for distribution.
Chow aside, Golden Harvest’s other substantial shareholders include billionaire Li Ka-shing with 17%, EMI and Norman Cheng Tung-hon with 12% and Jackie Chan with 5%.