Jia Yueting, the founder of China’s cash-strapped LeEco, has stepped down as Chairman of the internet and technology giant’s main listed unit, Leshi Internet Information. The move comes amid mounting pressure on debt-laden LeEco. Assets connected to the company and valued at $182M were recently frozen by a Shanghai court while Jia’s own 26% holding in Leshi suffered the same fate. LeEco was China’s first publicly traded streaming video company and has aggressively made deals to expand into other businesses including content, consumer electronics and auto production. It backs Le Vision Pictures and owns Le Vision Entertainment. According to Reuters, Leshi said today that Jia will remain controlling shareholder without any role. Jia himself today made a public plea for patience, promising on social media to repay debt and reaffirming LeEco’s electric car commitment. “Please give LeEco some time, please give LeEco car some time,” Jia wrote on his Weibo and WeChat accounts. “We will pay back creditors, suppliers and any other debts.”
Li Ruigang’s China Media Capital has raised $600M for a fund to expand its entertainment and internet investments portfolio. The private-equity firm said on Wednesday that a third of the fund is already invested, although it did not elaborate, according to Caixin Global. CMC is now managing two U.S.-dollar funds and two RMB funds. An active investor, it has stakes in Imagine Entertainment, NextVR, Broadway Global Ventures, Oriental Dreamworks and IMAX China; as well as joint ventures with CAA (CAA China) and Warner Bros (Flagship Entertainment).
Serge Toubiana has been elected President of French film export body Unifrance. He will hold the post for two years and replaces Jean-Paul Salomé who is leaving after four. Toubiana is the former head of the Cinémathèque Française which he ran from 2003-2015. Last year, Toubiana joined Pathé’s board as an advisor to the company’s chief Jérôme Seydoux. Unifrance is tasked with promoting French cinema around the world and organizes several key events throughout the year, including the Rendez-Vous with French Cinema in such cities as Paris and New York.
Digital Domain is expanding with a new studio based in Beijing, and has appointed Frank Ming Wei as Greater China CEO. The VFX company already has bases in L.A., Portland, New York, Vancouver, London, Hong Kong, Shanghai and Taipei. Wei joins from streaming giant Youku Tudou, where he was President of Youku.com. He has held various positions at the company since 2007 and previously worked as a sales director for Focus.cn, a leading real estate website. Digital Domain has also added three non-executive board directors: Pu Jian of CITIC Limited; Alan Song of SoftBank China Ventures Capital; and Mercari’s John Lagerling, who is the former VP of business development for mobile and product partnerships at Facebook.