Major Leadership Shake-Up at China Film Group (Exclusive)

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Han Sanping

La Peikang will take over from Han Sanping as the new head of the all-powerful state-backed film company, in a rare power transition for the Chinese industry.

During the Chinese New Year holiday at the end of January, the former head of China Film Group's co-production unit, La Peikang, will take over as chairman of the powerful state film body, part of a major reshuffle of the Chinese industry, local insiders tell THR

China Film Group is a colossus in the business, overseeing most of the financing, production, distribution, export and import of films into China.

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La, who is currently deputy head of China Film Group, will take over from current chairman Han Sanping, who is retiring after Chinese New Year, which this year falls on Jan. 31, industry sources say.

Fu Ruoqing, who is also a vice president at China Film Group, will replace Gu Guoqing as the chairman of China's second-biggest film distributor, Huaxia Film, while the Lunar New Year holiday will also see Cao Yin replace Yan Xiaoming as the head of the CCTV6, or China Movie Channel.

Industry insiders say that La's former role as the go-to guy on co-production should be a good sign for Hollywood companies trying to get traction in the booming Chinese market.

China Film Group could not be reached for comment, but an official announcement of Han's retirement and the other appointments is expected soon. 

La has handled public relations for China Film Group and was formerly head of China Film's co-production section, China Film Co-Production Corp.

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Han has overseen the growth of the Chinese film business from a small regional market with a tiny box office, despite being the world's most populous nation, to the globe's second-biggest film market. A charismatic figure who is a film director by trade, he is a fan of Hollywood films and is known in industry circles for doing impressions of top actors such as Will Smith, with whom he did a re-tooling of The Karate Kid.

There are reports that Han, who has turned Zhang Yimou, Chen Kaige and Feng Xiaogang into international names, will stay on in an advisory role to oversee the establishment of a major film fund.

He has also been linked to plans for an initial public offering (IPO) for a part of the company, which has been delayed because the Chinese stock market has been underperforming of late.