Chinese media entrepreneur Bruno Wu is dealmaking again. The mogul is hooking up with Thomas Middelhoff, the former CEO of Bertelsmann and German holding company Arcandor, to combine assets into alternative investment joint venture BT Capital. The new vehicle will be announced today, The Financial Times reports. BT Capital will combine the parties’ existing media interests in education, music, news and other resources. The heart of the business will be Wu and wife Yang Lan’s film and TV businesses which have grown in the past nearly two years. BT Capital will also make private equity investments in TV, film, Internet and other businesses both in China and elsewhere. One target is a TV production company that specializes in formats, the partners said. Lan, known as the ‘Oprah of China’ will be a director.
Wu and Middelhoff earlier attempted to form a joint venture, but that plan was kiboshed when Middelhoff left Bertelsmann in 2002. Middelhoff will have a “significant minority” shareholding in the new group. Wu told the FT, “All the assets are global assets, which already have or will soon have a China market expansion strategy.” The focus of “the first China-originated global media and alternative investment group” will be on “western, mid-sized profitable media companies to whom we can offer something by offering them access to the Chinese market,” Middelhoff said. Fundraising details were not disclosed.
This is the latest in a wide range of announcements from Wu, who told me in May that he wasn’t “bothered” by any skepticism that’s trailed his arrival on the international media scene. “Everything that we have announced is in very good proceeding,” he said at the time. In 2012, Wu’s Seven Stars Media announced an $800M investment fund. This was followed by a series of joint ventures with Fast & Furious 6 director Justin Lin, Spider-Man franchise producer Avi Arad and Grace Of Monaco producer Pierre-Ange Le Pogam. He also has a joint venture with Pinewood Studios and plans to build a mega-media hub in China called Chinawood. Perfect Storm Entertainment, the joint venture with Lin, recently partnered with Bruce Lee Enterprises for a TV series based on material written by the iconic Enter The Dragon actor.