Exclusive Hong Kong broadcast rights to English Premier League sends I-Cable shares soaring

Asian shares were mixed Tuesday with China's Shanghai Composite Index inching up 0.2% to 3,283. Major indexes in Hong Kong and Tokyo were down, with Japan's Nikkei losing 0.6% to end the day at 9,730 and Hong Kong's Hang Seng down 0.1% at 22,914.

In Hong Kong, I-Cable Communications (ICABY) surged 21.2% after yesterday's announcement that it will become Hong Kong's exclusive broadcaster of England's Barclays Premier League soccer games. This means big business for I-Cable, which outbid competitor Now TV. The games have run on Now TV since 2007. Broadcasting the Premier League could translate into millions of dollars in advertising that will, no doubt, be directed at male viewers, who are prime consumers of sportswear, beer, electronics and other high-end products. Advertisers will surely be vying for spots, bringing hoards of cash into the network.

In a press release, I-Cable said it will air the next three seasons of the games, beginning with the 2010/2011 season. It also said it was "bound by confidentiality obligation not to disclose the bidding price." The company's stock price shot up so quickly, that it was suspended for several hours during today's trading session. Shares in Now TV owner PCCW (PCCWY), Hong Kong's major pay-TV provider, slumped 2%.

Other shares showing dramatic movement today in Hong Kong included printed circuit board maker Meadville Holdings, which soared 41.9%. Bloomberg reports that the company anounced it may delist and pay out remaining assets as dividends. Meanwhile, scrap metal recycler China Metal Recycling Holdings nosedived 24.2% after the resignation of its CFO.

In China, banks closed higher today with China Citic Bank (CHBJF) climbing 3.1% and China Construction Bank (CICHF) rising 1.8%. But consumer products companies continue to be the real winners this week; Shenzhen-listed TCL Corp., which makes various home appliances soared to its 10% daily limit, and Xian Jiefang Group, which sells merchandise and operates department stores, surged 7.6%.

In Japan, shares continued to fall as gloom about the state of the country's finances infected the stock market. Electronics makers flagged, with Toshiba (TOSBF) losing 4.6% and Sanyo Electric (SANYY) dropping 4.1%. Both companies earn more than half their revenue abroad. Hitachi (HIT) also slumped, adding a decline of 2.6% to yesterday's losses and Konica Minolta (KNCAY), which makes parts for liquid-crystal displays, sank 5.3%. Fuji Electric (FELTF), which makes electronic devices including vending machines, plummeted 7.2%,

It may be that the $233 billion the government has injected into the Japanese economy is losing its effectiveness, and unless exports increase and jobs are created, Japan may be in for another slow ride.

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