South Africa-listed media firm Naspers has agreed to buy a 9.9 per cent stake in Beijing Media Corp, which is seeking $904.67 million through a Hong Kong listing this month.
Naspers is an electronic and print media multinational with operations in pay-television, print media, book publishing and internet services.
It owns 35.84 per cent of Hong Kong-listed Tencent, operator of instant message service QQ.
'[Naspers] has extensive multimedia experience,' said Du Min, executive vice-president and executive director of Beijing Media. But he said his company had not made any detailed strategic co-operation plans with Naspers or MIH, the vehicle through which Naspers will be holding Beijing Media.
Beijing Media, which handles advertisements for newspapers in the Beijing Youth Daily group, is keen to expand its revenue base by entering other media segments, including television.
The firm is planning to set up a joint venture with a mainland partner in the second half of next year and has budgeted $250 million out of its IPO proceeds for investment in the Beijing television industry.
Despite fierce competition and mounting losses in China's television programming sector, Beijing Media is confident it can break even within three years.
'We will be making TV programmes targeting trendy young people with high consumption power,' said Sun Wei, president of Beijing Media. 'We believe the television industry presents opportunities that complement our existing business.'
Beijing Media is selling 47.74 million H shares at $14.95 to $18.95 each. The 31/2-day public offer opens today with pricing expected on Friday and listing next Thursday.
Fund managers are divided over the Beijing Media offering.
Some call Beijing Media a must-buy as it is blessed by Beijing and is the first state-owned media company to list overseas.
The Beijing municipal government, the ultimate controlling shareholder of Beijing Media, has undertaken to grant the firm preferential consideration, according to Beijing Media management.
The participation of Naspers has served to firm up confidence in the listing. 'With Naspers' involved, I will be more comfortable with Beijing Media's prospects,' one fund manager said.