Chinese Entertainment Firm CMC Raises $1.5 Billion From Tencent, Alibaba

Courtesy of Getty Images
CMC chairman Li Ruigang

Known as a gatekeeper for Hollywood investment into China's highly regulated entertainment sector, CMC founder Li Ruigang has taken stakes in CAA, Warner Bros.' Chinese studio, Ron Howard's Imagine and much more.

China Media Capital Inc., the entertainment and media conglomerate headed by tycoon Li Ruigang, revealed Tuesday that it has raised $1.5 billion (RMB 10 billion) in series A round financing from Tencent Holdings, Alibaba Group and Chinese real estate developer Vanke, among others.

CMC Inc. says its post-fundraising valuation is now $6 billion (RMB 40 billion).

Founded in 2006 by Li, former head of Shanghai Media Group, CMC's Chinese and international entertainment holdings are vast. In China, its film assets comprise a vertically integrated studio, spanning production company Gravity Pictures, domestic and international distributor CMC Pictures and a substantial cinema circuit. The company now fully controls Pearl Studio, formerly known as Jeffrey Katzenberg's Chinese joint venture animation studio Oriental DreamWorks. It also holds sizable stakes in Hong Kong broadcaster TVB and Caixin, China's leading business news source.

Gravity Pictures is co-producing with Warner Bros. the giant shark movie The Meg. Starring Jason Statham and China's Li Bingbing, the film is due out in August. Pearl Studio is co-producing the big-budget animated feature Abominable with Universal and DreamWorks Animation, as well as Over the Moon, directed by Disney veteran Glen Keane, with Netflix.

"Technological development has driven continuous changes of content consumption. The global media and entertainment industry is undergoing a new round of adjustment and transformation," Li said in a statement Tuesday. "As one of the most important economies, China has the potential to nurture a new-generation large media and entertainment group company. CMC has always believed in high-quality contents and innovations and has integrated online and offline contents and invested abroad and at home."

Alongside CMC Inc., Li runs CMC Capital Partners, a private equity platform targeting international and domestic Chinese investment opportunities in entertainment, media, technology, fashion, sports and gaming.

Li has come to be known as something of a gatekeeper for Hollywood investment and participation in China's highly regulated media, tech and entertainment sectors. Among CMC Capital Partners investments is a controlling stake in Warner Bros.' Chinese joint venture film studio Flagship Entertainment; investments in Hollywood power agency CAA and its Beijing-based business CAA China; a stake in Brian Grazer and Ron Howard's Imagine Entertainment; and interests in China's Lego park, European soccer clubs, Silicon Valley virtual reality startups, and more.