Content Media acquires Chinese production and distribution companies from tycoon Bruno Wu’s Seven Stars Media; deal includes the Chinese theatrical release of Grace of Monaco.

Content Media Corporation has concluded a deal with Beijing-based Seven Stars Entertainment and Media and its principal, Chinese tycoon Bruno Wu. 

The deal will include the acquisition by Content of the Alive Group of companies based in Beijing, a direct equity investment by Seven Stars into Content, and the appointment to the Content board of directors of Wu as chairman and Alex Cherepakhov as non-executive director. 

The Alive Group is headquartered in Beijing and consists of several companies based in mainland China engaged in production and distribution of television programming to the Chinese market under the Alive TV Network brand; feature film production, co-production services and theatrical distribution in China; and sports programming, primarily mixed martial arts, under the Tiger Sports brand.

Alive also handles digital distribution of English-language programming to OTT players, Telcom carriers and cable systems in China; music rights; and advertising and marketing services

Content will distribute its library of film and television rights through the Alive Group to the Chinese market and will offer its producers direct distribution opportunities to the Chinese market through its Alive Group subsidiaries. Content will also distribute certain rights owned by the Alive Group outside of China.

The deal involves a direct equity investment by Seven Stars into Content Media, and the issuance of further shares to Seven Stars as consideration for the acquisition of the Alive Group.  Other participants in the equity raise include Jeff Sagansky, Franz von Auersperg, Content Media CEO John Schmidt and other members of the management team.

Seven Stars founder, Dr. Bruno Wu, joins the Content board as chairman and will work closely with Content’s management to build the Chinese business and spearhead an aggressive growth strategy in Asia. Seven Stars vice chairman Alex Cherepakhov also joins the Content board as non-executive director. Huw Davies is stepping down as Chairman.

Among the first commercial activities of the new venture will be Team China, a 10-hour martial arts reality show for CCTV5 and the Chinese theatrical release of Grace of Monaco starring Nicole Kidman and Tim Roth which was named the opening night film of the 2014 Cannes Film Festival and is scheduled for a May 2014 release in China.

The Alive Group is developing other television formats, such as Wheel of Fortune and will work with Content Television to bring new shows to the Chinese market. Other feature film projects are also in the pipeline.

Schmidt said: “Content’s worldwide production and distribution business will now include a wholly owned subsidiary operating directly in the Chinese market.

“The growth of the Chinese television market, the emergence of the OTT operators and explosive growth in Chinese box office revenue are all elements that make China the most compelling entertainment market in the world today.”

Wu said: “We have been building the Alive Group in China, and now we have found the perfect fit with Content Media. Content’s global distribution and production operations combined with our China business and Asia growth strategy makes for a unique and dynamic combination.”

The deal was negotiated by Geoff Webb and Rick Kwak for Content and by Alex Cherepakhov and David Rapaport for Seven Stars.