China’s Fosun Revealed as Leading Owner of Jeff Robinov’s Studio 8 (EXCLUSIVE)

Jeff Rabinov Fosun International

Fosun International, the Chinese conglomerate that is fast building a portfolio of entertainment and leisure assets, has emerged as the dominant shareholder of Studio 8, the high-profile production company founded by former Warner Bros. boss Jeff Robinov.

Fosun “held 80% equity interest in Class A investors of Studio 8, and the shares held by Class A investors represent 60% of the total share capital of Studio 8,” Fosun explained in its annual report. The document was published Monday in Hong Kong.

Fosun and U.S. private equity group TPG were today confirmed as the two largest shareholders in Canada-based performance art group Cirque du Soleil. Cirque is reported to be valued at $1.5 billion.

While the value of Fosun’s capital contribution to Studio 8 has widely been reported as $200 million, Robinov has not previously disclosed the shareholdings of other investors. Nor has he disclosed the firm’s capital and control structure. Extrapolating from the annual report shows Fosun as having a 48% economic interest in Studio 8, though the Chinese company is unlikely to have management control.

Another Chinese firm, Huayi Brothers Media, held several months of talks last year with Robinov about investing in Studio 8. But the deal collapsed in June 2014 when the could not agree on financial and deal terms.

In November, Robinov described Sony as both a financial backer of Studio 8 and its global distributor outside of China. His production deal with the studio calls for the production of 24 movies over five years.

Fosun’s annual report says that it “exercises significant influence over the distribution arrangement of movies produced by Studio 8 in the mainland China, Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan, whereby the company will build a global media entertainment investment, financing and operating platform with its base in China’s culture consumer market and focusing on the global film and television industry.” That fits closely with Robinov’s November explanation of the arrangement. “Our movies will be handled in China on a picture-by-picture basis through a distributor chosen by us and Fosun,” Robinov said.

Studio 8 has greenlighted “Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk,” a wartime drama to be directed by Ang Lee. Studio 8 and Bona Film Group, the Chinese film producer-distributor in which Fosun also owns a 20% equity stake, are both investors in the picture.

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