Polybona plans NYSE listing

Third Chinese film studio readies IPO for late 2010 or 2011

HONG KONG -- A third leading Chinese movie studio is aiming for a listing -- this time on the New York Stock Exchange — as the country's entertainment companies turn to the capital markets to raise funds.

Beijing Polybona Film Distribution Co. is aiming to go public in the second half of next year or the first half of 2011, chief executive Yu Dong in an interview Tuesday. The company will start drafting its listing application early next year, he said.

Polybona's rivals are making similar moves. Huayi Brothers Media Corp. debuted on China's new small companies market in the southern city Shenzhen on Friday, surging 148% on its first day of trading. The state-run China Film Group is planning to list in Shanghai, spokesman Weng Li told the AP recently.

Yu said he wants to list Polybona in the U.S., where entertainment stocks are common, to open up the company to American and other foreign investors.

China still restricts foreign access to its domestic stock markets to certain institutional investors. He said Polybona has already received funding from the venture capital firms Sequoia Capital and Matrix Partners China, with the second company investing 100 million Chinese yuan ($15 million).

"The capital markets are starting to recognize Chinese movie studios," he said.
The executive declined to reveal Polybona's revenue or profits, but said he estimates its movies will account for 800 million to 1 billion Chinese yuan ($117 million to $146 million), or 20 percent of the Chinese boxoffice this year.

Polybona's businesses encompass movie distribution, production and multiplexes. Among its recent productions are the upcoming Jackie Chan historical epic "Big Soldier," the historical thriller "Bodyguards and Assassins," starring Donnie Yen, the police thriller "Overheard" and "Mulan." Yu said Polybona will have 50 movie screens by the end of the year, but hopes to increase that number to 100 by the end of next year and 200 in three to five years.

While still small compared to the U.S., the Chinese boxoffice is growing rapidly. Government statistics show Chinese revenues surged from 920 million yuan in 2003 to 4.3 billion yuan in 2008 ($703 million) — compared to $9.8 billion in the U.S. last year. The number of movie screens grew by 570 to nearly 4,100 — an average of 1.6 new screens every day.
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