Alibaba Pictures Buys into 'Mermaid' Financier Hehe Pictures

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Alibaba Group Executive Chairman Jack Ma

The Chinese investment group is largely owned by a number of Chinese artists, including actor Chen Kun, director Cao Baoping and singer Yang Kun.

Alibaba Pictures has taken a strategic stake in Hehe Pictures, the Chinese film investment group whose credits include box-office smash The Mermaid.

Alibaba said it acquired a 30 percent stake in Hehe for an undisclosed sum. The deal makes Alibaba the second-largest shareholder in Hehe behind the company's founder and general manager Yang Wei.

Alibaba will appoint two executives to Hehe's board of directors and the two companies will collaborate on production, promotion and distribution of future film titles.

“We look forward to stepping up our fruitful partnership in terms of film production, promotion and distribution,” said Alibaba Pictures CEO Zhang Qiang in a statement. “By creating a healthy ecosystem for financing in the film industry, we hope to support more filmmakers and boost the development of the industry.”

Alibaba made their investment in Hehe in May of this year, when Hehe backed the Series A financing of Alibaba Pictures' online ticketing platform Tao Piaopiao.

Hehe Pictures was launched in 2013 and is part owned by a number of Chinese film talents, including actor Chen Kun (The Flying Swords of Dragon Gate), director Cao Baoping (Cock and Bull) and singer Yang Kun, one of the original judges of The Voice of China, a hugely popular television singing competition program. Other investors include directors Hao Jie, Zhang Chong and Jiang Zhuyuan.

The Mermaid is China's top-grossing film of all time, earning more than $500 million in the territory. Hehe's other projects include Cock and Bull, Skiptrace and Chongqing Hot Pot. The group recently announced plans to boost their feature slate, with more than 20 new projects announced.