China Film Group preparations for IPO raise speculation

China’s state-run film colossus, China Film Group, is being restructured as part of its plans for a stock market listing, but there is a great deal of speculation about exactly what parts of CFG will be brought to the market.

China’s 2010 box office was a record-breaking $1.5 billion, and a hefty chunk of that coin accrues to China Film Group.

According to local media reports, the group, or at least part of it, is being restructured into a new company called China Film Co. Ltd in preparation for the IPO, which was first mooted in 2004.

The new company will have $210 million in registered capital, and the revamp takes place with the permission of the Propaganda Ministry, the Finance Ministry and the State Administration of Radio, Film and TV.

The filing also said that state-owned, Beijing-based cable and broadband operator Gehua CATV Network would spend $3.23 million to acquire a 1% stake in the new company. Many believe that CFG’s Stellar cinema chain will form part of the offering.

“The planning work for China Film Group to join the stock market is proceeding stably, the company has been set up already, and we need to wait one more month to announce the capital component and stock structure,” CFG spokesman Jiang Defu told the 21st Century Business Herald newspaper.

What still remains unclear is exactly how the flotation is going to work.

CFG controls the lion’s share of China’s film coin, the production facilities and the talent, and it decides who makes what pics and when.

As well as being a major film producer, it controls the Beijing and China Children’s Film Studios, has six theatrical circuits and is the country’s largest film distributor, controlling the importation of films. With that kind of power, the government keeps a tight grip on the org’s reins.

CFG is expected to retain 75% of the new entity, while the remaining 25% will be divided among six others, including state-owned telco China Unicom.

An unnamed private company tried to get involved but was rebuffed, the Business Herald quoted a source as saying, and it increasingly looks like the listed unit will be dominated by other state-owned companies.

There has been a lot of hype about Chinese media company IPOs since private shingle Huayi Brothers raised $93.7 million listing on the Shenzhen board in 2009.

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