China's Alibaba, Tencent Raise Stakes in Huayi Brothers in $560M Deal

Wang Zhonglei Huayi Brothers P

Huayi Brothers, which is partnered with STX Entertainment on a multi-project deal, said it will increase cooperation with Alibaba, Tencent and other investors after share offering.

Chinese private film production company Huayi Brothers has announced that it has issued 146 million shares to the investment units of Alibaba, Ping’an Insurance, the Internet company Tencent and the CITIC conglomerate.

The shares were issued at $3.86 a share (24.73 yuan) and raised $560 million (3.6 billion yuan), Huayi said in a regulatory statement to the Shenzhen Stock Exchange late on Tuesday (August 18).

The stock of Huayi Brothers, which partnered with Robert Simonds' STX Entertainment for the co-financing, co-production and distribution for 12-15 theatrical releases each year, has been halted since late July. It was halted earlier that month after sharp falls in line with general market chaos.

The money raised will go towards the production of 12 blockbusters, 12 big-budget films and seven medium- and small-budget films, plus 400 episodes of TV dramas. They would also use $78 million towards paying down bank debt, Huayi said.

Huayi Brothers said it would have closer cooperation with the investors on production, games, building e-commerce platforms and areas such as merchandising and marketing.

Both Alibaba, founded by Jack Ma, and Tencent have been keen to expand their role in the entertainment business. In March, THR inked a content deal with Tencent.

Tencent bought 52 million shares and is now the second-biggest shareholder in Huayi Bros with 8.06 percent. Alibaba bought 62 million shares, making it the fourth-biggest shareholder with 4.47 percent.

Ping’an Asset Management purchased 27 million shares and became the sixth-biggest shareholder with 1.98 percent, while CITIC purchased 4.3 million shares.