A Houston investment company has increased its holdings in TVX Broadcast Group of Virginia Beach, Va., to 15 percent of its outstanding common shares, according to papers filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Wedge Group Inc., controlled by Lebanese multimillionaire Issam Fares, bought 123,200 shares from Aug. 1 to April 29 at $8 to $10.62 1/2 a share, bringing its total to 682,419 shares, the filing said.

Wedge Group did not give a reason in the filing for increasing its TVX holdings. Wedge officers reached by telephone in Houston refused to discuss the investment.

One observer, Jonathan Intrater, vice president of Broadcast Investment Analysts, said he doesn't see Wedge's move as a prelude to a takeover attempt. "They {Wedge} don't have the expertise to run a group like this. They are increasing their stake in what they feel is an undervalued stock," said Intrater.

Federal law prohibits foreign investors from controlling more than 20 percent of the voting stock of broadcast licensees, or 25 percent of broadcast groups.

TVX is the nation's largest owner of independent television stations, reaching 14.3 percent of U.S. households, according to the Association of Independent Television Stations.

TVX President Tim McDonald closed a $245 million deal last April to buy five independent stations from Taft Broadcasting Co. Such acquisitions have strengthened the company's position, Intrater said.

"The stations they're acquiring are all established properties. There's a strong audience base. There's a strong base of advertisers," said Intrater. All are first or second independents in mid-size markets; TVX has stations in such cities as Buffalo, Miami, New Orleans, Dallas and Houston.

While only one of the 12 TVX stations -- Norfolk -- showed a profit last year, TVX revenue has grown steadily. Programming purchases, the primary cost for independent stations, will be far cheaper for TVX as it takes advantage of its expansion, Intrater said.

Wedge's chairman, Fares, has amassed an empire of corporate holdings spanning three continents, in fields as diverse as food service, chemicals and petrochemical manufacturing, and commercial and heavy construction.

TVX management was at a retreat outside San Antonio, Tex., and could not be reached for comment.