Lionsgate to invest in Asia TV

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SINGAPORE -- Lionsgate will invest in the new Asia TV channels and content business being set up in Hong Kong by veteran Asia media executive William Pfeiffer, sources said Thursday.

Pfeiffer, who worked with several top Lionsgate executives at Sony in the 1990s, opened the new operation in Hong Kong this week, following his recent exit after seven years from Malaysian-owned film and television outfit Celestial Pictures.

A Lionsgate spokesman declined comment, but a company insider confirmed that the investment would be off the company balance sheet..

Pfeiffer declined to disclose the identity of his backers or funding details for the venture, which will launch television channels and create Asian content for global distribution.

Celestial said last week that Pfeiffer's contract had expired and that he was leaving "to pursue new business ventures."

The company's board said the post-Pfeiffer Celestial would "continue to explore new and digital opportunities for the Shaw library, to enhance and strengthen the Celestial TV channels for global distribution, and to work closely with leading talents in China, Hong Kong and elsewhere to create top-quality content for markets worldwide."

The statement also said the board was considering "various options" and would announce a replacement "when the decision is taken in due course."

Celestial reported EBITDA losses of $4.7 million in the nine months ending in October on revenue of $18 million. Astro said the losses were 50% lower year-over-year.

Pfeiffer set up Celestial in 2001 with investment from Malaysian billionaire Ananda Krishnan, said to the Asia's third-wealthiest man. The operation was later incorporated into Krishnan's direct-broadcast satellite venture, Astro All Asia Networks in Malaysia.

Jonathan Landreth in New York contributed to this report.
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