China's Bison Capital Takes Stake in Jeff Berg's Resolution
UPDATED: Resolution, which expects to have a presence in China within the year, is the first Hollywood agency to receive investment from a Chinese company.
Beijing-based Bison Capital Holdings has taken a stake in Jeffrey Berg's year-old Resolution Talent and Literary Agency, marking the first time that a Chinese company has invested in an American talent agency.
Berg said he has been looking for business opportunities in China since his first meeting with Jahm Najafi, Resolution's initial investor. "This partnership will allow us to fund strategic expansion in the global marketplace," Berg said in a statement.
Bison Capital founder Peixin Xu serves as an independent director of Bona Film Group Ltd., China's largest privately owned film distributor. Bona reported net revenues of $149.3 million in 2013, up five percent from the year before thanks in part to the box office performance of its 14 theatrical releases. A spokesperson for Resolution would not speculate on any future projects between the agency and Bona, stating that the Bison investment is not a production deal. But he said Resolution is looking to position itself in China's rapidly expanding and dynamic movie market and expects to have a presence on the ground within a year.
News Corp. has a 19.9 percent stake in Bona. Berg announced that News Corp. China Investments CEO Jack Gao is joining Resolution's board of directors. Gao also is a former president of Microsoft China.
Bison's media investments include AirMedia Group Inc., a leading provider of advertising platforms outside of the home in China.
"An important element of our decision to partner with Resolution is the reputations of the senior team who are recognized professionals around the world," Xu said in a statement. "In addition to the financial opportunity, we now have access to relationships and information that will be critical in enhancing our platform in China."
Berg added: "Our colleague David Unger played a central role in initiating these negotiations. He will also be coordinating our new China activities as we build our presence in Beijing with Bison." Unger, a member of Resolution's media finance group whose Chinese clients include Michelle Yeoh and Gong Li, was the first ICM agent to follow Berg to his new venture.