Hu Shuli, one of China’s most respected and high-profile journalists, is getting a new boss – as well as renewed financial and political backing.
China Media Capital (CMC), a government-backed, 5 billion-yuan investment fund that counts some of the country’s largest state-owned media and financial firms as its shareholders, said on Thursday that it had purchased a stake in Caixin Media Co., the Beijing-based media group Hu has run for the past four years.
Li Ruigang, the chairman of CMC, made the announcement at the closing ceremony of a financial conference hosted by Caixin in Beijing on Thursday evening. Neither CMC nor Caixin disclosed the exact size of the stake or the transaction price.
“My fund and I are very honoured to become a part of Caixin,” Li said in his speech. "Our common goal is to build a China-based financial media platform with international influences," he added.
According to sources close to the deal, CMC has bought a 40 per cent stake in Caixin from Zhejiang Daily Press Group, thus becoming the largest shareholder of Hu's group, which operates four Beijing-based magazines and a financial news website. It also places the outspoken Hu under the wings of Li Ruigang, 44, one of the most powerful executives in China’s state-run media industry.
Li is currently the president of Shanghai Media & Entertainment Group, a state conglomerate encompassing print, broadcast, film and real estate assets across the city, as well as chairman of the 5-billion yuan fund. He had also briefly served as the deputy secretary general of the Shanghai municipal government between 2011 and last year.
Caixin said in a statement on Thursday evening that Li would become the chairman of Caixin Media.
Hu established Caixin Media in late 2009, after working as the editor-in-chief of Caijing, another famous financial publication, for more than a decade. She secured a 40-million yuan investment from Zhejiang Daily Press Group, the state-owned newspaper conglomerate, for a 40 per cent stake in Caixin. Zhejiang Daily had sought to sell a 19.77 per cent stake in Caixin for 56 million yuan in 2011, but later withdrew the sale.
In July last year, Hu won another shot in the arm when Tencent, one of China’s largest internet firms, became Caixin’s newest stockholder with an undisclosed amount of shares.
Sources close to Caixin have told the Post that relations between Hu and Zhejiang Daily Press Group have soured in recent years as the state group sought to exert more editorial control over Hu and her reporters, known for their hard-hitting investigations that sometimes drew the ire of censors. Zhejiang Daily had also grown increasingly frustrated with Caixin's lacklustre financial performance, sources say.