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Content Media strikes deal with Chinese mogul Bruno Wu

Content Media strikes deal with Chinese mogul Bruno Wu
Seven Stars founder Bruno Wu, left, and Content Media Corp. Chief Executive John Schmidt. (Content Media Corp.)

Content Media Corp. has struck a deal with Seven Stars Entertainment & Media, the Beijing company founded by Chinese mogul Bruno Wu.

Content Media, a London and Los Angeles distributor of film and television assets, will buy the Alive Group from Seven Stars, giving Content reach into the fast-growing Chinese entertainment market.

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As part of the deal, Seven Stars is buying a minority stake in Content and Wu is joining the company's board as chairman to help build its Chinese business. Seven Stars' Vice-Chairman Alex Cherepakhov is joining Content's board as a non-executive director, and Huw Davies will step down as chairman.

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Financial details were not disclosed.

Alive Group's businesses include the Alive TV Network, film production, sports programming and digital distribution of English-language shows.

With the acquisition, Content hopes to tap into China's increased demand for TV, film and online entertainment by distributing from its large library and working with producers to create new material targeted to Asian audiences.

"You've got an emerging middle class that is massive and growing very quickly," Content Media Chief Executive John Schmidt said in an interview. "What goes with that is a need for leisure activities, entertainment and the kinds of pursuits that we've taken for granted in the West."

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This marks the latest deal between media and entertainment companies in China and Western countries. This month, Walt Disney Studios and Shanghai Media Group Pictures struck a multiyear partnership to co-develop Disney movies for release in China and other overseas markets. China's total box office revenue topped $3.6 billion last year, up about 27% from 2012.

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Content's first commercial efforts through the new Alive venture will include the 10-hour martial arts reality show "Team China" for the country's CCTV5 and the theatrical release of "Grace of Monaco," starring Nicole Kidman and Tim Roth. 

"We have been building the Alive Group in China, and now we have found the perfect fit with Content Media," Wu said in a statement. "Content's global distribution and production operations combined with our China business and Asia growth strategy makes for a unique and dynamic combination."

This transaction follows Content Media's recent purchase of a major stake in the Finnish company Aito Media. Other investments include TV production company Collins Avenue, Spirit Digital Media and Jigsaw Productions.

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Twitter: @rfaughnder

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