China opens toon trading

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SHANGHAI -- Owners of the rights to Chinese animated content hope to raise about $4 million in Shanghai starting this week by listing intellectual properties on a secondary exchange in China's commercial capital.

More than 30 animated and folklore properties began trading Thursday on the Shanghai United Assets and Equity Exchange, including rights to publish some Chinese folklore cartoons in Europe.

The trading platform was developed in cooperation with the China National Center for Developing Animation, Cartoon & Game Industry, said Maggie Chen, vice general manager of mergers and acquisitions of SUAEE.

The announcement -- made on the same day that the Walt Disney Co. released its first made-in-China film, "The Secret of the Magic Gourd" -- came at an industry exhibition in Shanghai hosted by the Chinese National Exchange Center of the Animation, Cartoon and Game Industry. The group is one of many trying to boost China's cash-strapped animation industry to compete with those in Hollywood, Japan and South Korea.

Last year, China banned imported animation from primetime television.

Chen said that while the exchange was formed specifically to support the industry exhibition, the trading in these animation properties will be ongoing and is supported by foreign companies.

The SUAEE estimates that the annual output value of China's animation, cartoon and gaming sector stands at 18 billion yuan ($2.36 billion) and says that the market demand is more than 60 billion yuan ($7.88 billion) annually, China's state-run Xinhua news agency reported Thursday.
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