Thomas Hui, trusted aide of Li Ruigang ‘China’s Rupert Murdoch’ is named chair of HK’s troubled TVB free-to-air broadcaster

30-Apr-2020 Intellasia | South China Morning Post | 11:00 AM Print This Post

Thomas Hui To, the chief operating officer of mainland Chinese tycoon Li Ruigang’s China Media Capital, has become non-executive chair of Television Broadcasts (TVB), in the latest move signalling Li’s increasing influence at Hong Kong’s largest free-to-air broadcaster.

Li, dubbed China’s Rupert Murdoch because of his vast media empire, became an indirect investor in troubled TVB when his company bought an undisclosed stake in Young Lion, in April 2015. Young Lion Holdings is the largest single shareholder in TVB, owning 26 per cent.

Also on Wednesday, Mark Lee Po-on, the chief executive of TVB, was appointed vice-chair, taking over from Li, according to an announcement by TVB. The company approved the reshuffle at a board meeting on April 29, it said. The changes in top management come after Charles Chan Kwok-keung stepped down as chair on February 4 this year.

“The reshuffle gives the public a general impression that Li and his company intend to play a bigger role in the broadcaster,” said Louis Tse Ming-kwong, managing director of VC Asset Management. “It is too early to say if this is a good or bad move for the company. It depends on the performance.”

Hui, aged 47, is also an executive director of CMC, a director of Young Lion and a non-executive director of Shaw Brothers Holdings in which TVB holds an 11.98 per cent interest. He joined TVB as non-executive director and a member of its executive committee, the company’s highest decision-making body, in 2015.

In February, Li was also appointed as a member of the executive committee.

Hui was redesignated as an executive director in March 2018. He holds Hong Kong permanent residency, finished high school in Hong Kong and obtained a master’s degree in electronic engineering from Cornell University. He had served as an executive director at Goldman Sachs’s Hong Kong investment banking department, and worked for Merrill Lynch.

He is expected to bring to bear his international and mainland Chinese experience and connections to breathe fresh life into the struggling company.

He will receive a total of HK$820,000 (US$106,000) a year for his roles at TVB, according to the statement.

The broadcaster posted a net loss of HK$295 million (US$38 million) for 2019, wider than the HK$199 million loss the previous year, as advertising revenue plunged amid the protests that battered the city’s economy and the outbreak of coronavirus further curtailed economic recovery

As a result of the dire situation, TVB announced staff cuts in December. The lay-offs affected about 350 employees from field production and supportive services, some 10 per cent of the workforce.


Category: Hong Kong

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