It's Official: China's Recon Group Acquires 51 Percent of Millennium Films for $100M

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Avi Lerner and Gerard Butler

The Chinese conglomerate takes a majority stake in Avi Lerner and Trevor Short's production company.

Recon Group is officially in business with Avi Lerner's Millennium Films.

The Chinese conglomerate unveiled Thursday an agreement to acquire a majority stake in Lerner's independent film production company, which is behind the Expendables franchise and genre flicks such as Rambo and London Has Fallen. The 51 percent stake is valued at $100 million, and the deal is set to close in the second quarter of the year.

Founded in 1996 by Lerner and Trevor Short, Los Angeles-based Millennium Films has been courting potential Chinese buyers for the past year, sources in Beijing have told THR. The company’s upcoming film slate includes The Hitman’s Bodyguard, starring Ryan Reynolds and Samuel L. Jackson; Escobar, starring Javier Bardem and Penelope Cruz; and Hunter Killer, starring Gerard Butler and Gary Oldman.

Under the terms of the deal, Recon Holding will acquire a majority interest in Millennium Films, including its nearly 300-film library. Lerner will act as CEO of Millennium Films, while Trevor Short will serve as COO. Xia, chairman of Recon Group and English soccer club Aston Villa, will serve as chairman of Millennium Films. Recon Holding will have the opportunity to acquire the remaining 49 percent stake in the future.

“We are excited about our new partnership with Recon Holding, led by Tony,” said Lerner and Short in a statement. “China is emerging as the world’s largest market for premium filmed entertainment, and we see enormous value in placing the Chinese market at the forefront of our global strategy. Our films have experienced considerable success in China and in other markets around the world, and we feel there is significant value in partnering with an astute, experienced and well-connected partner to help us execute our long-term strategy of making commercial movies for the global marketplace.”

“Since Avi and his partners founded the company, the Millennium Films organization has created a dynamic film brand and a deep library of intellectual property that resonates with audiences on a global scale,” said Xia in a statement. “We believe Millennium’s unparalleled portfolio of motion picture franchises and intellectual property provides significant opportunities for long-term growth as the company continues to maximize the value of its creative properties across multiple platforms and in multiple territories. This is an incredible opportunity for us to build upon Millennium’s premium brand by accessing a film market in China that continues to experience a period of unprecedented growth.”

Millennium Films was advised by The Raine Group and Latham & Watkins LLP. Amir Malin of Qualia Capital also provided advice and counsel. Recon Holding was advised by China International Capital Corporation and Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP.