Tycoon Henry Cheng takes control of i-Cable

New World Development chairman Henry Cheng has reached a deal that will make him the largest shareholder in TV operator i-Cable.

A stock exchange filing showed Celestial Pioneer, a company wholly-owned by Cheng, had agreed to pay HK$208.9 million to buy out David Chiu and Li Sze-Lim’s shares in Forever Top.

After the deal, Celestial Pioneer’s stake in Forever Top will go up from 31.5 percent to 72 percent.

Along with a 14 percent stake owned by a subsidiary of Chow Tai Fook of which Cheng is the chairman, the New World Development boss will hold an 86 percent interest in Forever Top, which owns 43.2 percent of i-Cable.

Under listing rules, Celestial Pioneer will make a conditional mandatory general offer for shares not owned by Cheng.

Shares in i-Cable surged nearly 28 percent to HK$0.087 when they resumed trading on Wednesday morning after a five-week suspension.

The filing says Cheng and Forever Top do not directly manage i-Cable, and the board will continue to review its business and financial conditions and make management decisions.

Cheng has no intention to make significant changes to i-Cable’s current staff levels or to dispose of or re-deploy the company’s fixed assets, the document said.

Forever Top took control of i-Cable in 2017 with a capital injection of more than HK$700 million, after its previous owner, Wharf Holdings, declared that it would no longer fund the loss-making television service.