Fund to ride on China media boom

Fund to ride on China media boom

A US$100-million (S$130-million) Singapore-based fund for investments in China's media and entertainment industry was launched yesterday.

This is the first fund outside of China, and the first non-renminbi denominated fund, dedicated to investments in the country's media and entertainment.

It was launched by China's Bona Film, Singapore's Tembusu Partners and Singaporean media entrepreneur Calvin Cheng at the ongoing Singapore Media Festival.

Also present were Mr Yu Dong, founder and chairman of Nasdaq­listed Bona Film Group, China's leading film distributor, and Mr Andy Lim, founder and chairman of private equity fund manager Tembusu Partners.

Mr Yu said the fund will invest in anything to do with the media industry - not just film and television but also games, theme parks and new opportunities brought about by the development of the China film industry.

The fund will be formalised on March 31, with fund-raising to begin shortly after.

Anchor investors are likely to include Bona Film Group as well as Thailand's multi-industry conglomerate Charoen Pokphand Group.

Asked how such a fund will benefit the local industry, Mr Lim said: "There will be many opportunities for Singapore companies which want to make a foray into China but, of course, they all have to be competitive."

Mr Cheng said: "The existing film and TV co-production agreement between Singapore and China opens up opportunities for the fund to invest in projects that involve Singapore-based media companies. In addition, we will be looking at media companies globally that have a China story."

He called China the "most exciting media market today".

In terms of box-office takings, it is second only to the United States. Its TV market will also overtake Japan's by 2018 to be the second largest in the world.

Industry insiders welcomed the launch of the fund.

Mr Melvin Ang, chief executive officer of Singapore-headquartered film producer and distributor mm2 Asia, is definitely looking to crack the China market.

He noted: "Any such fund is always good but, of course, anyone applying must qualify for whatever guidelines and requirements."

He added that it was good to have Bona Film behind the fund, given its strong presence in China.

The Bona Film Group's business spans production, distribution and exhibition.

Mr Yu noted that China's box office this year will hit 30 billion yuan (S$6.4 billion) and that Bona Film accounted for about 10 per cent of that.

The 11-day Singapore Media Festival, which runs till Sunday, is an umbrella media event hosted by the Media Development Authority and brings together events such as the Asia TV Forum & Market, ScreenSingapore 2014 and the Singapore International Film Festival.

Minister for Culture, Community and Youth and Second Minister for Communications and Information Lawrence Wong witnessed the launch of the media fund, and later highlighted it in his address for the official opening of the forum and ScreenSingapore.

He said: "Through the Singapore Media Festival, we hope to offer opportunities for international media players to deepen their collaborations with Asian and Singapore media companies.

"The US$100-million fund will be the first fund that allows foreign investors to participate in China's media market."

He also noted that the power of film and TV will be harnessed to mark Singapore's 50th birthday next year.

He said: "We will have a bumper crop of more than 24 Singapore films next year, that's double our average annual output. That works out to about two movies a month - Singapore movies, made in Singapore, about Singapore."

The 15th edition of the Asia TV Forum & Market and fourth edition of ScreenSingapore are expected to attract a record high of close to 5,000 attendees from 60 countries.

bchan@sph.com.sg


This article was first published on December 11, 2014.
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