Huanxi Buys Stake in SVOD Service Mubi, Partners on China Launch

Lost in Hong Kong pic - H 2015
Courtesy of Enlight Pictures

The entertainment company is spending $50 million to help launch Mubi China, taking an 8 percent stake in a deal that values the company at $125 million.

London-based "curated" SVOD platform Mubi is tapping into the most populous country on Earth.

The company announced on Thursday that Hong Kong-listed entertainment banner Huanxi Media Group, headed by Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon co-producer Dong Ping, who sold his production company ChinaVision to Alibaba in 2014 for $800 million, was investing $50 million in the platform with a view to launching it across China this year.

Under the deal terms, Huanxi will invest $40 million in Mubi China in return for a 70 percent stake in the new venture, with Mubi contributing its intellectual property for the remaining 30 percent. The company will invest an additional $10 million into Mubi itself for an 8 percent stake in the overall company, valuing it at $125 million.

Huanxi's recent credits include last year's action-comedy Lost in Hong Kong, which became the second-highest grossing Chinese-language film of all time with box-office receipts of $244 million.

"We are thrilled to launch Mubi in China this year," said Efe Cakarel, Mubi's founder and CEO. "The foundation of Mubi has always been to ensure film fans have access to the best films around the globe, from London to Beijing, wherever and whenever they want. Through our partnership with Huanxi, we will be able to do just that; introduce a curated film offering in the country with the largest population in the world — and soon the largest film market in the world."

Mubi, which offers a constantly rotating slate of 30, mostly independent, films, has been ramping up its offering over the past year, striking licensing deals with Sony and Paramount and launching exclusive premieres, including Paul Thomas Anderson's music doc Junun.