Big radio investors are 'open to offers'

PUBLISHED : Friday, 10 August, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 15 August, 2012, 11:23pm


Main shareholders who refused to increase their investment in the troubled Digital Broadcasting Corporation say they will consider 'reasonable offers' for their stakes from investors approved by the broadcasting regulator.

But the station's co-founder, Albert Cheng King-hon - who earlier warned that the broadcaster could go off air early next month amid infighting and a lack of new investment - said he would not buy the shares held by DBC's chairman, businessman Wong Cho-bau, who is also a member of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference.

Cheng, who claims Wong's decision not to inject extra cash was politically motivated, added that he might take legal action against Wong in an attempt to stave off liquidation.

Wong said in a statement yesterday that his decision not to put more money into the broadcaster was 'purely out of business considerations and to fulfil the legal responsibility of a board director'.

'I and several shareholders are willing to consider reasonable offers from eligible investors. However, we have not received any concrete offer to purchase our shares so far,' Wong said in a statement co-signed by other shareholders including Vtech chairman Allan Wong Chi-yun, Bank of East Asia chairman David Li Kwok-po and his brother Arthur Li Kwok-cheung, a member of the Executive Council. Between them, they own half of the shares in the broadcaster.

An eligible investor would be a person approved by the Office of the Communications Authority.

Wong said the decision not to invest an additional HK$50 million into the company in May came because management refused to co-operate with him in allowing auditors to examine DBC's books.

The station has attracted HK$150 million in investment since it was granted a 12-year licence to run digital radio channels in 2008. The station began full operations in May.

Wong, who came to public attention for offering a bargain lease on a luxury Shenzhen penthouse to former chief executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen, said a board meeting on July 27 had decided the broadcaster 'could not operate efficiently'.

Cheng said he was surprised to hear that Wong would be willing to sell his shares because Wong had earlier declined to do so.

'However, I don't find him sincere in selling the shares to me. Otherwise, he could have contacted me directly,' said Cheng.

Cheng, a former lawmaker and Commercial Radio talk show host, added that he would not buy shares from Wong. 'I don't trust those businessmen any more and, in fact, I don't have money to buy his shares.'

A government spokesman said it was monitoring the situation but had not received notice of any transfer of shares.