Who is the mysterious TVB buyer?
TLG’s founder and chief executive Alex Chow said he’s been eyeing TVB and been in contact with the broadcaster since 2007
The story has been updated with a response from a TVB spokesman.
TLG Movie & Entertainment Group, the unit of Beijing-based Top Legend Group, is founded and run by a Hong Kong native, Alex Chow.
A graduate of the University of California, Chow cut his teeth working in his family’s toymaking business before dabbling in cross-border trade between Hong Kong and mainland China, as well as in corporate finance.
He’d served as the “advisor of Greater China licensee” for Sony Pictures, Marvel Comics, with production credits for Sony’s first and second Spiderman movies, according to its website.
“As a Hong Kong local, I value the intellectual property of TVB,” with a trove of archival footage, movies and sitcoms that span nearly half a century in television broadcasting, Chow told the South China Morning Post in a phone interview in Hong Kong.
An acquisition of TVB or its library “isn’t a new idea,” Chow said, adding that he’d been in touch with the broadcaster’s senior management since 2007.
In response, TVB spokesman S.Y. Tam said: “As our statement [on Wednesday] said, the offeror is not known to us. We therefore would be interested to know who are the senior management in TVB that Mr Chow has been in touch in the past 10 years.”
In its February 8 statement to the Hong Kong Stock Exchange, TVB said the possible purchase of its stake “is not known” to the broadcaster.
Timing was dictated by the TVB management’s buyback proposal, which would further tighten the existing shareholders’ grip on the network after its completion.
“It will be very difficult for us to get into TVB if the controlling shareholders raise their stake to 43 per cent, so we have to make the offer now,” he said.
Top Legend’s address in the Chinese capital is a serviced office located in the heart of Beijing’s central business district, with direct view of the city’s iconic CCTV building.
Staff at Arcc Offices confirmed toSCMP that TLG (HK) Holdings, as its unit is called, is among the companies that currently rent a space there, although the name of TLG is not shown on the floor.
“We can offer office renting in different sizes, and the customers can rent a small room,” said the staff receptionists from Arcc Offices.
TLG’s shareholders are listed as Geoffrey Wai Ho-choi and Kelvin Dong Wei-tsun, with Wai serving as non-executive director, while Dong is the sole director, according to its February 8 statement to the Hong Kong Stock Exchange.
Wai “specialises in technologies for distributing content over the Internet,” while Dong has “experience in project management for over 15 years” and worked with Henderson Land, Sung Hung Kai Properties, Gammon Construction, Hong Kong Resort and Hong Kong MTR on projects, according to its website.
The company’s website lists five movies in the works, with a combined production budget of 600 million yuan. The company said it’s “poised to invite” Hong Kong’s A-list actors including Donnie Yen, Andy Lau and Tony Leung to lead.
Top Legend’s ambitions don’t end at television. The company also has plans to buy control of the Manchester United English Premier League football club.
A 2015 report by Chinese sports newspaper Titan claimed that a group of Chinese investors were making a 3.5 billion euro (US$3.853 billion) offer for a stake in Manchester United.
“It’s not a rumour. It’s true,” Chow said. “We are interested to buy the club,” he said, declining to elaborate.
Additional reporting by Phoenix Kwong in Beijing, Laura He in Hong Kong