China Broadband takes HK$420m slice of mainland media firm


by Elaine Chen
South China Morning Post

The fund is run by former China Netcom Group Corp chief executive Edward Tian Suning.
The HK$420 million Asian Union New Media (Group) deal is China Broadband's fifth media investment and comprises ordinary shares, convertible bonds and warrants.
The deal, one year in the making, introduced a management reshuffle that saw Mr Tian taking the chairmanship and a host of other mainland media and technology heavyweights taking up senior positions.
They included Li Ruigang, the president of the nation's second-largest media group - Shanghai Media Group; Zhang Changsheng, a senior vice-president of China Netcom Communications Group; and Jiang Jianning, the chief executive of China Youth Travel (Holding).
They have been appointed non-executive directors and, along with Mr Tian and executive director Zhao Anjian, will also establish a strategic committee that will lead the restructuring and formalise the business strategy.
The mainland media industry has been expanding at a double-digit rate, bolstered by advancement of broadband technology, which in turn is raising demand for content.Asian Union has stakes in mainland advertising agencies, a travel channel that is a joint venture with a Hainan television station, and television drama production houses.
Mr Tian said the mainland media sector lacked scale but broadband technology would provide the distribution channels and solutions. With the trend towards IPTV (internet protocol television) and multimedia, there's a big demand for content, he said.
The new management team hoped to bring expertise to Asian Union that would capitalise on the increasingly flexible mainland media environment where media companies had been able to tap capital markets to reform, he said.
Asian Union, a leading mainland content provider, was founded by former chairman Dong Ping, a film investor and distributor whose portfolio includes the award-winning Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and other mainland hits.
The Beijing-based firm established in 1996 underwent rounds of restructuring that led to a back-door listing in Hong Kong in 2005.
Last year, Asian Union returned to the black with a net profit of HK$264.6 million, against a HK$22.18 million loss previously. Sales totalled $304.9 million, of which 92 per cent was derived from advertising revenue which is surging in the mainland due to growing urban affluence.
Mr Tian said such consumerism underlined Asian Union's growth prospects in providing leisure and entertainment contents.
The company's Hong Kong-traded shares have gained 25 per cent so far this month. They closed up 0.55 per cent at 18.4 HK cents yesterday.