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China Media Capital Buys Stake in Formats Company IPCN (EXCLUSIVE)

China Media Capital has agreed to take a substantial minority position in International Program Content Network. The China and London-based company is one of China’s leading TV and entertainment rights brokers and has been involved in importing shows including “China’s Got Talent,” and “The Voice of China.”

The value of the transaction, handled through CMC investment vehicle Gravity, was not disclosed. However it has emerged that the deal involved the establishment of a new holding company Pegasus Group, in which CMC holds a 48.1% stake.

CMC founder Li Ruigang and CMC executive Thomas Hui are set to become members of the Pegasus board, along with IPCN CEO and co-founder Rebecca Yang. IPCN was formed in 2007 by Yang and Mick Desmond, former CEO of ITV Broadcasting. Desmond has sold his shares and is exiting the business.

The company has brokered more than 35 deals bringing more than 5,000 hours of international TV to the Chinese market in original and localized versions. IPCN says it will use the new funding that comes with the change of shareholding to move further into content creation and original content production for domestic Chinese and global broadcast markets. It will focus on non-scripted formats, scripted drama and comedy.

“We will continue to grow and invest in our leadership position in the advertiser funded content space through the introduction of innovative new bespoke opportunities for global brands seeking powerful marketing vehicles to engage Chinese consumers,” said IPCN CEO Rebecca Yang.

IPCN’s Shanghai team is producing local versions of global TV hits for Chinese broadcasters. Its adaptations of “Secret Millionaire” and “Super Nanny” have been officially recognised by the Chinese Radio and Television Association as amongst ‘China’s most socially influential TV shows’.

IPCN also has a substantial branded content/ TV sponsorship and event creation business, 80 Entertainment. Product placements deals include one with Proctor & Gamble that funded the launch of the ‘China’s Got Talent’, and another TV sponsorship and cross media campaign for Apple’s headphone company Beats by Dr Dre.

CMC is a state-backed private equity fund founded in 2009 that owns the Star China group of channels, the Fortune Star film library, investigative journalism platform Caixin Media, and a minority position in Oriental DreamWorks. In October SMG and CMC Capital Partners followed that by launching an investment platform called CMC Creative Fund in an alliance with Warner Bros., RatPac and WPP.

In a separate move, Li Ruigang is today being reported as becoming an investor in TVB, Hong Kong’s leading free to air broadcaster. It is not clear whether the investment is made through CMC, Shanghai Media Group, or by Li in a personal capacity.

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