Jack Ma’s Alibaba has acquired an 8.8% stake in Enlight, one of China’s leading film and TV production companies, again highlighting the online giant’s eagerness to increase its presence in content creation. The stake is valued at $380 million. The news came in an announcement to the Shenzhen stock exchange.
The move to buy into Enlight, which last year struck a deal with Israel’s Keshet International for the Chinese rights to the Rising Star format and also enjoyed a big local success in 2012 with feature film Lost in Thailand, is the latest by Alibaba as it seeks to consolidate its footing in the film and TV biz. Alibaba has a majority stake in ChinaVision, now called Alibaba Pictures, and has teamed up with celebrated Hong Kong filmmaker Wong Kar Wai (In The Mood For Love) to produce its first film, Bai Du Ren, which will be written and directed by Zhang Jiajia and will star Wong Kar Wai regular Tony Leung (2046).
In November the company, which currently has a larger market valuation than Walmart following its initial IPO raising $21.8 billion that same month, signed a deal with Huayi Bros, China’s largest privately held film company that that covers e-commerce, online entertainment and movie development. The deal will see Alibaba invest 5-10% of the budget on five Huayi films over the next three years with the two working together on distributing the projects. Alibaba also owns a 16.5% stake in online video firm Youku Tudou.
Hollywood execs went gaga over Ma when he travelled through L.A. last October and declared Alibaba was “the biggest entertainment company in the world.”