Chinese Tycoon Bruno Wu Takes Stake in Content Media
Content Media announced Monday a multi-faceted partnership with Chinese media tycoon Bruno Wu's Seven Stars Entertainment.
Under the terms of the agreement, Content will receive a direct equity investment from Seven Stars while also acquiring the Chinese company's Alive Group subsidiary. Wu will become chairman of Content's board of directors. The company says his ambition as the company's new leader will be "to build the Chinese business and spearhead an aggressive growth strategy in Asia." Seven Stars vice chairman Alex Cherepakhov will assume the role of non-executive director under Wu.
Financial details weren't disclosed, and it was not immediately clear how large a stake Seven Stars was taking in Content.
Seven Stars' Alive Group is based in Beijing and has business interests spanning the media spectrum in China.
Among the first commercial activities of the new venture will be the Chinese theatrical release of Grace of Monaco, starring Nicole Kidman and Tim Roth, which was named the opening night film of the 2014 Cannes Film Festival. Content will release the film in China in May.
The company will also soon begin production on Team China, a 10-hour martial arts reality show planned for broadcast on CCTV5.
According to a statement from Content, other participants in the equity raise included Jeff Sagansky (former CEO of Paxson Communications, co-president of Sony Pictures Entertainment and president of CBS Entertainment), Franz von Auersperg, Content Media CEO John Schmidt and other members of the management team. Wu and Cherepakhov join Schmidt, Von Auersperg, Sagansky, Kerry McCluggage and Content Media Corp. CFO Geoff Webb as directors. Former Content chairman Huw Davies is stepping down.
In China, Alive Group is involved in TV production and distribution under the Alive TV Network brand, feature film production, co-production services and theatrical distribution. It is also known for sports programming, primarily mixed martial arts, under the Tiger Sports brand, and it does digital distribution of English-language programming to OTT players, Telcom carriers and cable systems across the country, along with managing music rights and running an advertising and marketing services arm.
Content plans to use Alive's infrastructure to distribute its extensive library of film and television rights to the fast-growing China market. The group says it will also distribute some of Alive's content internationally.
Schmidt said in a statement: “This is a tremendously exciting deal for Content and a landmark deal in our industry. Content’s worldwide production and distribution business will now include a wholly owned subsidiary operating directly in the Chinese market. The growth of the Chinese television market, the emergence of the OTT operators and explosive growth in Chinese box office revenue are all elements that make China the most compelling entertainment market in the world today.”
Wu added, “We have been building the Alive Group in China, and now we have found the perfect fit with Content Media. Content’s global distribution and production operations combined with our China business and Asia growth strategy makes for a unique and dynamic combination.”