Accounting firm Deloitte has clarified that the transfer of Asia Television shares has not been completed yet, and the move still requires approval from the Communications Authority. The clarification came after the station last week announced that China Culture Media International had bought 41.66 per cent of ATV’s shares from major shareholder Wong Ben-koon. The mainland investors were ready to inject HK$5.1 billion into ATV, according to station executive director, Ip Ka-po. Derek Lai Kar-yan, Deloitte China’s southern region managing partner who was named by a court as manager of the station, stated on Friday that the investors had already paid and that the authority’s approval was not needed. Lai’s remarks surprised commerce secretary Greg So Kam-leung, who said: “I do not understand why [the manager] said the authority’s approval would have no impact on the deal ... and the sale of ATV shares was completed. How can this fulfil the licensing conditions?” Under the city’s broadcasting laws, at least half the board members of a local free-to-air broadcaster must reside in Hong Kong. And licensed broadcasters must seek approval from the authority for changes to the shareholding structure. In the clarification issued last night, Deloitte China said Lai was referring to the completion of the payment obligation by the purchaser in relation to the shares under a share purchase agreement. It said: “The transfer of the shares had not yet been completed pending, among other things, [the authority’s] decision on whether or not to approve the share transfer.” It said even if the authority rejected the change, the transfer could still be completed under the share purchase agreement when ATV’s broadcasting licence expires in April, when no approval would be required from the authority. China Culture Media International’s parent company is Sino Finance International Investment, which is based in Qingdao, Shandong province. The group’s website claims it has interests in real estate, energy, mining and the high-tech sector. Both companies are unfamiliar names in Hong Kong and do not have substantial corporate records on the mainland. Ip said last week the investors would run ATV through a management fund. Four new directors, including mainlander Si Rongbin, were appointed on August 18 to the station’s board, according to Companies Registry records. Local media have reported that Si heads energy conglomerate Sino Group. The government pulled the plug on ATV in April, deciding not to renew its free-to-air licence following controversy over the way it was run and amid dwindling ratings. The struggling station can operate until April next year, but says it plans to apply for a new licence.