Television Broadcasts (TVB)

TVB, US-based Imagine Entertainment form US$100m joint venture to develop programmes for overseas markets

Hollywood film and TV production company brings strong track record and prestige to strengthen Hong Kong broadcaster’s English programming

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 26 July, 2017, 10:43pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 26 July, 2017, 11:33pm

Television Broadcasts (TVB) is investing US$100 million in a joint venture with Hollywood film production company Imagine Entertainment to finance development of new TV projects for the United States and international markets.

“TVB needs to expand its production base for television programmes as well as its distribution markets,” company chairman Charles Chan Kwok-keung said on Wednesday.

Under their 50-50 joint venture, TVB will also have the rights to release, reproduce, distribute, broadcast and use TV programmes developed in mainland China, Hong Kong, Taiwan and Macau.

Chan said the alliance will also strengthen the library of English-language programmes under TVB, one of the world’s largest commercial producers of Chinese TV shows.

The broadcaster credited CMC Holdings, an investment company formed by private equity firm China Media Capital (CMC) in 2015, for helping negotiate the deal.

For Imagine Entertainment, the partnership with TVB comes more than year since Shanghai-based CMC bought a minority stake in the US company.

Chinese media magnate Li Ruigang, the chairman of CMC, also serves as deputy chairman at Hong Kong’s dominant free-to-air terrestrial TV broadcaster.

Li, dubbed China’s Rupert Murdoch because of his vast media empire under CMC, became an indirect investor in TVB when his company purchased an undisclosed stake in the broadcaster’s largest shareholder, Young Lion Holdings, in April 2015. Young Lion is the largest single shareholder in TVB, with a 26 per cent stake.

In a disclosure made to the Securities Futures Commission in May this year, it was revealed that Li owns a 79.01 per cent stake in Young Lion, which gives him an indirect 20 per cent stake in TVB.

Li said on Wednesday the joint venture “will be of significance to TVB’s growth strategy in the years to come”.

TVB needs to expand its production base for television programmes as well as its distribution markets
Charles Chan Kwok-keung, chairman, TVB

Imagine Entertainment, which was founded in 1986 by director Ron Howard and producer Brian Grazer, provides a solid track record and all-important Hollywood prestige to the venture’s future projects.

“I have known Brian Grazer and Ron Howard, whose creative talent is unrivalled in the industry, for years,” Li said.

Imagine Entertainment produced the highly successful 2001 biographical movie A Beautiful Mind, which won four Academy Awards, including Best Picture and Best Director for Howard.

Other past productions include Backdraft, Apollo 13, and The Da Vinci Code.

The firm’s popular American TV programmes include 24, Arrested Development and Friday Night Lights.

Grazer said the deal with TVB took more than eight months to complete, according to a report by Variety.

It quoted Grazer as saying that the joint venture gives Imagine Entertainment “the money and flexibility to align ourselves with ‘A talent’ and to co-finance series for any platform”.