IM Global Acquired by Tang Media Partners, Launches TV Joint Venture With Tencent

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IM Global founder Stuart Ford

The two deals are expected to provide the independent studio with strategic benefits in China, as well as the ability to raise substantial further capital.

U.S.-Chinese company Tang Media Partners has acquired a controlling stake in foreign sales, financing and production company IM Global, it was announced Thursday.

TMP is acquiring the stake from India's Reliance Group, which bought into IM Global in 2010. The size of the share wasn't disclosed. 

Stuart Ford, who established IM Global in 2007, will retain his role as CEO. TMP founding partner Donald Tang is now the executive chairman of the IM Global board.

In a parallel transaction, IM Global and TMP have partnered with Chinese tech giant Tencent on a new television production joint venture that will operate under the recently launched IM Global Television banner and includes a dedicated television production investment fund. 

"The combined vehicles provide IM Global and IM Global Television with significant capital to further invest in film and television programming development, production and distribution and to expand its global distribution platform," TMP said in a statement.

The two transactions are worth a combined $200 million, according to the Financial Times, which was the first to report the news. Ford and Reliance will retain minority stakes in both companies.

“We couldn't be more excited at the prospect of working in both the U.S. and in China with TMP, Tencent and Reliance to continue expanding IM Global’s worldwide platform into a next generation global content creation and rights licensing studio," said Ford.

Although still an emerging player in international entertainment, Tang Media Partners, with offices in Los Angeles and Shanghai, has assembled an impressive roster of backers, including CMC, Tencent, Huayi Brothers and Sequoia Capital. The company says its focus is on developing, financing, producing and distributing film, TV, music, games, sports and even education and fashion content. 

Originally from Shanghai, Tang is based in Los Angeles and has experience in packaging U.S.-China entertainment deals. He is said to have advised AMC Entertainment in 2012 when it was bought by Chinese conglomerate Dalian Wanda Group in a landmark $2.6 billion deal. 

Since its founding, IM Global has lived up to its name, launching offices in New York, London and Mexico City, as well as Beijing. Since its establishment in 2013, the company's China office has become an increasingly active international distributor of Chinese-language films, handling such local hits as The Mermaid, Mojin: The Lost Legend and Ning Hao's Breakup Buddies. IM Global's 2016 slate includes Gary Ross’ Free State of Jones, starring Matthew McConaughey; Mel Gibson’s Hacksaw Ridge, starring Andrew Garfield; Eran Creevy’s Collide, starring Nicholas Hoult, Felicity Jones, Anthony Hopkins and Ben Kingsley; Brad Peyton’s Incarnate, starring Aaron Eckhardt; and the Barack and Michelle Obama first-date movie Southside With You. 

IM Global and Reliance Entertainment were represented by Winston & Strawn in the transaction. TMP was represented by Sheppard Mullin Richter & Hampton. Manatt, Phelps & Phillips advised on the formulation of the television fund and joint venture. Ford was represented by law firm Weintraub Tobin and accounting firm Armanino.

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