Chinese Murdoch wants to list his media assets

April 01, 2019 16:11
Li Ruigang, chairman of China Media Capital, is known for his big appetite for mega deals in the media industry. Photo: Reuters

Last month Australian-born American media mogul Rupert Murdoch completed his deal of the century with the sale of most of 21st Century Fox's entertainment assets to The Walt Disney Company.

Li Ruigang, dubbed as China's Murdoch, appears ready to follow suit. His media flagship China Media Capital (CMC) is looking to raise HK$30 billion through an initial public offering, according to a company document obtained by Stand News.

It did not specify the venue and timing of the listing, but Hong Kong is not being ruled out.

According to the document, CMC targets a market capitalization of over HK$60 billion. Last year, the media conglomerate raised 10 billion yuan (US$1.49 billion), valuing the company at 40 billion yuan.

Li, also nicknamed Uncle Li, has brought in a star-studded lineup to the board, including Martin Lau Chi-ping, president of Tencent Holdings (00700.HK), and Joseph Tsai Chung-hsin, co-founder and executive vice chairman of Alibaba Group.

Still, the board is dominated by CMC's own management team.

Both Alibaba and Tencent, along with China Vanke (02202.HK, 00002.CN), joined CMC's latest funding round last year.

The Tsai family's Fubon Financial and Suzhou Oriza Holdings are also substantial CMC shareholders.

In 2017 Fubon and CMC jointly acquired a 5.4 percent stake in Creative Artists Agency, Hollywood's biggest talent agency.

CMC, the new kids on the block, is known for its big appetite for mega deals in the media industry.

Already the single largest shareholder of Television Broadcasts (TVB), CMC owns a wide spectrum of media assets from video sharing portal bilibili to Legoland theme parks.

Li, who was believed to have been fostered by China for its national going-out strategy, also snapped up 4 percent of the sports consortium that owns Manchester City in 2016.

The investment yield of these assets remains a big unknown. The TVB stake he has bought, for example, was down by two-thirds in four years as the city largest free-to-air broadcaster suffered from shrinking market share and poor equity investments.

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EJ Insight writer