Pearson in Asian TV deal

Pearson, the international media business that owns the Financial Times, will take a 10 per cent stake in TVB, a broadcaster and programme production company based in Hong Kong.

The move signals the company's ambitions to become a big player in the fast-growing television market in Asia.

Pearson will pay HK$1.3bn (£108m) for its stake in the Hong Kong-listed company, which has 75 per cent of the local television advertising market. The stake is being sold by Shaw Brothers, which will be left with 24 per cent.

Greg Dyke, the recently appointed chairman and chief executive of Pearson Television, said TVB had an abundance of popular Chinese programming, the ability to sell advertising and the network to distribute programming. "All three are scarce resources in Asia."

In 1993 TVB reported net profits of HK$520m on sales of HK$2.1bn

Pearson has long tried to buy into Asian television. In 1993 the company lost out to Rupert Murdoch for a stake in the pan-Asia satellite broadcaster Star TV. Late last year, Pearson's attempt to buy 10 per cent of TVB from the Malaysian tycoon Robert Kuok also failed.

Mr Murdoch, too, has wanted a stake in TVB, but his 1993 bid was thwarted by regulators because foreign ownership of terrestrial television stations was limited.

TVB dominates Hong Kong's television scene, attracting about 70 per cent of the territory's audience, and has ambitious plans to expand further. It already competes against Star TV for viewers in Taiwan.

Pearson's existing television interests include Thames television and minority stakes in BSkyB, Yorkshire Television, UK Gold and other satellite businesses.

The deal is still subject to the approval of the Hong Kong broadcasting authority.

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