Chinese offshore investment

How Li Ruigang, China’s ‘Rupert Murdoch’, is building a global media empire

PUBLISHED : Friday, 23 June, 2017, 8:06pm
UPDATED : Friday, 23 June, 2017, 11:51pm

China Media Capital (CMC), mainland China’s most influential media and entertainment investor, is no stranger to overseas investment and has the ambition to build a global business empire.

Founded in 2009 by chairman and single largest shareholder Li Ruigang, dubbed China’s Rupert Murdoch, the company is the mainland’s first fund dedicated to media and entertainment investments in China and abroad.

“CMC aims to build a global presence in the industry, and it very much would like Hong Kong to be a key part of it,” the former Shanghai government official told reporters on Friday.

The company focuses on the production of films, television dramas, variety shows, animation, as well as the provision of home entertainment and information over the internet.

CMC aims to build a global presence in the industry, and it very much would like Hong Kong to be a key part of it
Li Ruigang, CMC chairman

It also operates live entertainment businesses, including cinemas, theme parks, events and exhibitions management.

CMC’s shareholders include e-commerce giant Alibaba Group – owner of the South China Morning Post – internet titan Tencent and investment funds.

Besides owning key stakes in Hong Kong’s dominant free-to-air broadcaster Television Broadcasts (TVB) and film studio Shaw Brothers, it is also a minority shareholder of Los Angeles-based Creative Artists Agency (CAA).

CAA is the world’s largest entertainment and sports talent agency and represents stars including George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Tom Cruise, Lady Gaga and David Beckham, who have huge fan bases in China.

In April this year CMC struck a tie-up with CAA to form a new company called CAA China, which analysts believe may facilitate more Sino-US co-productions and marketing in the world’s two biggest film markets by box office revenues.

In 2015 CMC formed an international production and distribution joint venture with Warner Bros Entertainment, to be based in Hong Kong, called Flagship Entertainment Group, the first such China-US venture. Hong Kong was selected for its headquarters in an apparent bid by Li to make the city a centre for his movie industry ambitions.

In the sports arena, CMC has built up a major presence, owning stakes in Manchester City Football Club, Melbourne City Football Club, New York City Football Club and Japan’s Yokohama F. Marinos.

It has also invested in Formula E Holdings, the official promoter of FIA Formula E Championship, the world’s first single-seater, all-electric car racing event.

Other investments include Caixin Media, China’s most influential financial news source, and Shanghai Dream Centre, an entertainment complex on the western bank of the Huangpu River.

CMC is positioning the complex as a combination of New York’s Broadway and Times Square.

Expected to open for business next year, it will have office buildings, studios, art museums, theatres, cinemas, performance squares, shops, restaurants and bars.