HONG KONG: tom.com, the Hong Kong media conglomerate backed by Asia’s richest man Li Ka-shing, has reported a lower net loss for 2002 and expressed hope that recent talks on a Chinese television venture with AOL Time Warner Inc would bear fruit.
For its 2002 fiscal year, the former Internet start-up posted a net loss of HK$410mil compared with a HK$636mil loss in 2001. The 2002 loss included a HK$197mil provision for goodwill related to some of the company’s early acquisitions.
Turnover last year totalled HK$1.62bil, more than double the HK$627mil recorded a year earlier, thanks largely to an acquisition spree that included purchases of about 30 media assets over the last two years.
tom.com began life as an Internet company during the tech boom, but has diversified its portfolio since then to include outdoor advertising, magazines and book publishing assets in Hong Kong, China and Taiwan.
Reflecting that shift, online revenues accounted for just 16% of the company’s total in 2002, while offline made up the balance 84%. While online revenues were up a healthy 78% to HK$256mil, the offline figure nearly tripled to HK$1.37bil.
Earlier in the week, tom.com said it was in talks on acquiring a stake in AOL Time Warner’s China Entertainment Television (CETV) channel, which broadcasts to south China’s affluent Guangdong province.
“It’s a great opportunity and an honour to work with one of the world’s largest media organisations,” tom.com chief executive Sing Wang said at a news conference to discuss the results. “So if we can complete this transaction, we believe it will open up further co-operation opportunities with AOL Time Warner,” Sing said.
tom.com has said it would like to get into the broadcasting business to complement its existing media assets. It tried last year to acquire Hong Kong broadcaster Asia Television, but that deal fell through. – Reuters