China Media Capital (CMC) announced Tuesday that it has raised 10 billion yuan ($1.5 billion) in A-round financing from a group of investors that includes tech giants Alibaba and Tencent, and real estate company Vanke.
The media investment fund was founded in 2009 by Li Ruigang, a well-connected media mogul who is often called “China’s Rupert Murdoch.” Valued at 400 billion yuan after the financing round, CMC has its fingers in a range of businesses, from the most influential financial news outlet in the country to video platforms and a film studio.
“As technological change drives the continual evolution of content consumption, the global media and entertainment industry is going through another wave of adjustment and transformation,” Li stated in a CMC press release.
Li is a uniquely Chinese media tycoon. The 49-year-old is known for his experience in both the public sector and the business world. In 1994, Li graduated from Fudan University’s journalism school, one of the nation’s best, and started his career at the state-owned Shanghai Media Group (SMG). As CEO of the group from 2002 to 2011, he turned SMG into a powerful force in China’s then-fledgling media market and rose through the Party ranks, becoming deputy secretary-general of the Shanghai Municipal Party Committee in 2011, a role he held for a year.
In 2009, Li won official approval to create China Media Capital to fill a gap in the industry, as media companies then relied on banks for funding. Li has since risen to superstar status as a powerbroker in Chinese media.
CMC first drew international attention in 2012, when it launched Oriental DreamWorks, a Shanghai-based joint venture with American studio DreamWorks Animation. The studio produced the 2016 feature “Kung Fu Panda 3.” Earlier this year, CMC took full ownership of the studio, rebranding it Pearl Studio.
The fund now has stakes in a diverse range of outlets across the Chinese-language media industry. In 2013, CMC invested in Caixin Media, the most influential financial news outlet in China. CMC is also the biggest shareholder in Hong Kong’s leading free-to-air broadcaster, TVB, which appointed Li its vice-chairman in 2016.
Over the last few years, CMC has backed a series of popular TV shows and major startups in the online video field. The company financed Pear Video, a short news video platform set up by a group of former staff from Shanghai United Media Group, in 2016. (Shanghai United Media Group owns Sixth Tone.) CMC has also funded pop culture video platform Bilibili, short video app Kuaishou, and lifestyle video platform Yitiao.
Editor: Qian Jinghua.
(Header image: China Media Capital founder Li Ruigang speaks at a conference in Shanghai, June 27, 2017. VCG)