Remember the days when you could enjoy a bus journey in peace and quiet, free from the inane screaming emanating from a silly 14-inch TV screen?
Well, those days could be returning, at least for those taking KMB and Long Win buses, as rumours (including this one in Apple Daily) predicting the sale of Roadshow, which reported a loss of nearly HK$50 million last year, grow in intensity.
Transport International Holdings (KMB’s holding company) has had a 73% controlling stake in Roadshow more or less since the latter was listed 15 years ago, but has been looking to get rid of what its lord and master Sun Hung Kai Properties (which effectively runs TIH – not to mention, KMB – with its 34% shareholding) has come to see as an albatross round its neck. And, as everyone knows, the only birds which the Kwok Brothers are partial to keeping alive are geese of the golden persuasion.
With its market capitalisation a paltry HK$600 million, which makes it little more than a glorified shell company, Roadshow has proven itself something of a Croesus in reverse, with everything it touches turning to dust, most recently its short-lived contract to display posters at one of the territory’s premier locations, the Causeway Bay entry to the Cross-Harbour Tunnel.
At the same time, look as hard as you might, but you won’t find a KMB bus that started operating in the past six months with a TV screen (or accompanying din) on board. The installation programme has, well, stalled – hardly surprising, given that no one watches the rubbish. And who would want to, when you can watch your favourite show on your smartphone?
While the talks that took place eight years ago, around the time of founder Winnie Ng’s removal from the company, with among others Quam Capital, came to nothing, this time round – with SHKP involved in a sweeping reorganisation of its businesses – it is highly probable that it will give the order for its subsidiary to go ahead and cut its losses.
All that effort back in 2001 to obtain Stock Code number 888 may not have turned out such a lucky number for shareholders and investors, but every cloud has a silver lining, and in this case it is the banks, the financiers, the speculators and Hong Kong Exchanges & Clearing that will be rubbing their hands in glee.