U.S. shares of China’s Bona Film Group are up 7.7% this morning after the distributor announced two deals that help to consolidate ownership: Its founder and CEO, Yu Dong, agreed to pay $71.4M for the 19.3% stake owned by 21st Century Fox. Separately, Bona plans to sell a 13.3% interest to a Chinese investment group, Fosun Group, which already owns 7.5% of Bona. When the dust settles, the Bona chief will own about 32.3% and Fosun will have 20.8%. Fosun’s deal follows its agreement last month to invest in Jeff Robinov’s Studio 8.
Fox (in its earlier incarnation as News Corp) bought its stake in Bona in May 2012 and later that year announced a multi-picture agreement to co-produce Chinese language films. The companies say today that Fox’s sale of its Bona stake “has no effect on the five film co-productions … or on the robust pipeline.” One of their co-productions, Bride Wars, began principal photography last month. It’s “the first of our five co-production projects with 21st Century Fox, and we are confident it will be a tremendous success, as it will appeal to the fast growing younger Chinese audience, one of the most important audience groups that we want to capture in today’s market,” Bona’s Yu says.
Twentieth Century Fox Film CEO Jim Gianopulos adds that the studio remains “committed to our current co-productions with Bona as well as to exploring future collaboration with them and others in the exciting and rapidly growing Chinese film market.” Bona shares have appreciated about 15.6% since Fox made its investment.
Fosun Chairman Guo Guangchang says that his company’s investment is another vote of confidence in the prospects for the Chinese film market. Fosun and Bona hope to “capture attractive opportunities in the fast growing domestic movie industry, as well as the opportunities that will emerge through the cooperation in the movie business between the United States and China.”