Bona to sell up to $80 mil worth of shares

Unit is China's first film company to trade in U.S.

Chinese distributor Bona Film Group plans to sell up to $80 million in shares in an IPO on the Nasdaq Global Market, making it the first publicly traded Chinese film company to list Stateside.

Bona, China’s largest privately owned film distributor, has been preparing the listing for several years.

Bank of America, Merrill Lynch and JPMorgan are leading the transaction, which is expected to be completed early next year, with China Investment Capital Corp. as co-lead. Cowen & Co and Piper Jaffray are co-managers.

Bona is expected to use proceeds from the IPO to expand its movie theater biz, buy film distribution rights and invest in production.

In the first three quarters of this year, Bona lost $7.5 million, compared with a year-earlier profit of $1.2 million, on revenue that more than doubled to $35 million.

Company is currently working with Hong Kong helmer Tsui Hark on $35 million chopsocky epic 3D “Flying Swords of Dragon Gate,” in production in China.

It has joint-distribution arrangements with state-owned China Film Group and has distributed 17 Chinese pics internationally since 2008, including Teddy Chan’s “Bodyguards and Assassins” last year.

Bona was formed by CEO Yu Dong in 1999 and merged in 2003 with the Poly Group, the business arm of China’s People’s Liberation Army.China Film and Enlight Media are also aiming for IPOs.

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