You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Ricky Wong Denies Agreement to Rescue Hong Kong’s ATV

HKTV, the company controlled by telecom mogul Ricky Wong, on Wednesday (April 1) denied reports that it had reached an agreement to buy a majority stake in Asia Television (ATV), Hong Kong’s nearly bankrupt second free-to-air TV broadcaster.

On its main news bulletin on Tuesday (March 31) evening, ATV announced that the two mainland Chinese businessmen, Wong Ching and Wong Ben-koon, who own 52% of the broadcaster had agreed to sell their shares to HKTV.

In a statement issued to the Hong Kong Stock Exchange, Ricky Wong said that he had met with the ATV owners last week, but that no agreement had been reached.

In February the High Court ordered the sale of a 10.75% stake in ATV, but outside bidders were hesitant, without the sale of a further 40% stake from Wong Ching.

Charles Mok, a legislator representing the Information Technology functional constituency, said that it appeared that ATV had made the apparently false announcement about a sale to HKTV in an effort to persuade the government to renew its operating licence.

Other legislators have since called on the finance industry regulators to look into the ATV announcement on the grounds that the company may have misled investors by releasing false information.

The Executive Council, roughly equivalent to a cabinet of ministers, is scheduled to hold a special meeting today to discuss the matter.

“Ricky Wong … confirmed that he did meet with Mr. Wong Ching once on 26 March 2015 to exchange and discuss preliminary ideas on how assistance may be provided to assist in the operations of ATV and the renewal of its domestic free television program service license. No agreement or agreement in principle has been reached by Mr. Ricky Wong, whether or not on behalf of the Company with anyone with regard to the possible transaction. In particular, the Company has not entered into any discussions with the Joint and Several Managers of ATV appointed by the High Court of Hong Kong Special Administrative Region,” HKTV said in the filing.

ATV has endured a highly public meltdown over the past several months, following a dispute between shareholders and a succession of financial losses. In recent months staff were not paid, which prompted newsroom staff to threaten to quit. If the company were unable to comply with its obligations on news reporting, that would in turn mean that ATV would be in breach of the terms of its operating license and could be closed down by government.

In addition to staff wages, the company needed to raise cash to pay its license fee and a penalty imposed by the government, amounting to a combined US$1.32 million (HK$10.2 million), that was payable in two installments, in February and March.

Ricky Wong, who made a fortune with City Telecom, has for several years harbored ambitions to become a major broadcaster. He was very briefly chief executive of ATV in 2008, but exited after 12 days, having being caught in a dispute with then-chairman Linus Cheung over restructuring plans. And in 2013 Wong was rebuffed in a bid to get a free to air license for his specially formed HKTV company.

More Biz

  • Allison Kaye

    Scooter Braun Names Allison Kaye Partner at Ithaca Holdings (EXCLUSIVE)

    On the back of a history-making debut by Ariana Grande, who claims the top three songs on the Billboard Hot 100 chart this week (tying the Beatles), Scooter Braun has appointed his longtime deputy Allison Kaye to partner at Ithaca Holdings LLC, which houses SB Projects. She was previously president of music at the 12-year-old [...]

  • Tidal Launches $1 Million Program to

    Tidal Launches Unplugged, $1 Million Program to Support Emerging Musicians

    Tidal, the streaming platform headed by Jay-Z, today announced the launch of a million-dollar artist grant program intended to support emerging musicians. Called Tidal Unplugged and funded by a donation from venture capitalists and philanthropists Mark Lampert and Robert Nelsen, the program will kick off March 1 in Detroit, where Lampert’s grandfather started his musical career. [...]

  • Patti Smith, Sharon Van Etten Lead

    Patti Smith, Sharon Van Etten, Lead Initial Lineup for Renovated Webster Hall

    New York’s classic venue Webster Hall, which will reopen this spring after a months-long renovation, has announced the first run of shows after its relaunch: Patti Smith and Her Band, Broken Social Scene, MGMT, Empire of the Sun, Old Dominion, Sharon Van Etten, Built to Spill, Real Estate, Chromeo and Big Thief are among the [...]

  • Jussie Smollett

    Jussie Smollett Charged With Filing False Police Report

    “Empire” actor Jussie Smollett has been charged with filing a false police report, the Chicago police said Wednesday. “Detectives will make contact with his legal team to negotiate a reasonable surrender for his arrest,” police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said on Twitter. Smollett is due to appear in court for a bond hearing at 1:30 p.m. [...]

  • Coast Guard Lieutenant Hit List

    Coast Guard Lieutenant Targeted CNN, MSNBC Anchors and Democrats for Attacks

    Anchors at CNN and MSNBC and prominent Democrats were targeted for attack by a Coast Guard lieutenant arrested Friday on a firearms charge, according to federal prosecutors in Maryland. In court documents revealed Tuesday, prosecutors describe the firearms and controlled substance charges Christopher Paul Hasson is facing as “the proverbial tip of the iceberg.” CNN’s [...]

  • Jussie Smollett suspect

    Jussie Smollett Named a Suspect by Chicago Police for Filing False Report

    Chicago police have named “Empire” actor Jussie Smollett as a suspect in a criminal investigation, three weeks after he reported he was the victim of a hate crime. Detectives are presenting evidence to a grand jury, which is expected to determine whether to indict Smollett on a charge of filing a false police report. “Jussie [...]

  • Contract Placeholder Business

    WGA, Agents Face Tough Issues on New Franchise Pact (Column)

    The Writers Guild of America and the major talent agencies are seven weeks away from a deadline that could force film and TV writers to choose between their agents and their union. This is a battle that has been brewing for a year but few in the industry saw coming until a few weeks ago. [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content