Jeff Robinov Close to Deal With Investors Worth Up to $300M
Chinese conglomerate Fosun will provide the bulk of financing while Huayi Brothers may also invest in the former Warner Bros. executive's Studio 8, which will distribute its films through Sony.
Former Warner Brothers executive Jeff Robinov is closing in on a deal to raise as much as $250 million from Chinese investors, and an announcement could come as soon as next week, according to individuals with knowledge of the situation.
Sources maintain that Chinese conglomerate Fosun will invest as much as $200 million, and Huayi Brothers, previously said to be the lead investor, may remain involved with a $50 million commitment. Sony Pictures could inject an additional $50 million, giving Robinov $300 million.
One source says Robinov has been offered more than the $300 million in equity that he was seeking. He is said to be assembling that amount in various increments from interested parties. In addition to Chinese companies, he also is in talks with potential European investors and strategic partners.
"Jeff is trying to build a real production company, not just a slate of films, similar to what Legendary or Skydance have done," said a source attending the Shanghai International Film Festival.
Robinov has declined to comment on ongoing negotiations due to the fluidity and complexity of such deals.
The original Huayi deal would have injected up to $150 million into Robinov's Studio 8, which would have been one of the biggest China-Hollywood team-ups so far.
Robinov has also had talks with the e-commerce company Alibaba, which is about to go public in the biggest tech listing ever and is keen to expand its involvement in the film business. There have also been discussions with the L.A.- and Beijing-based production company DMG and the Chinese distribution and production outfit Bona.
An announcement that a deal was done had been widely expected at Cannes.
Huayi Bros. was formed in 1994 and has grown into an entertainment conglomerate, with interests in film, TV, music, advertising and talent management. The company is known to have been seeking co-production and co-financing partners abroad.
Huayi had announced a deal with Legendary Pictures in 2011, but the deal foundered.
The company was behind two of 2013's biggest movies at the Chinese box office, Journey to the West: Conquering the Demons and Young Detective Dee: Rise of the Sea Dragon. The company's 2013 net profit more than doubled to $109 million.