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Bill Gates’ Corbis Images Sold to Visual China Group

Corbis Images, the photo agency owned by Bill Gates’ Corbis Group, is to be sold to Chinese new media company, Visual China Group.

Unity Glory, a subsidiary of Shenzhen-listed Visual China, will own and manage the images and motion archives, names and trademarks associated with the Corbis Images, Corbis Motion and Veer licensing brands.

Other Corbis businesses, notably the Corbis Entertainment and Branded Entertainment Network, were not part of the sale. They will be rebranded in the coming months and focus on entertainment advertising.

Corbis Entertainment will continue to provide rights representation for celebrities and iconic personalities, including: Albert Einstein, Steve McQueen, Marvin Gaye, Bruce Lee, Thomas Edison, Muhammad Ali, Sophia Loren and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Deal terms were not disclosed. Corbis was represented by Allen & Company LLC in the sale of Corbis Images.

In a separate, but related, deal Visual China signed a deal with Getty Images, that will enable Getty customers to access the Corbis Images library. Previously, Visual China has partnered with Getty Images for over a decade to market and distribute Getty Images’ content exclusively in China.

After a transition period, Getty Images will exclusively offer Corbis creative stills, Corbis Motion content and Corbis archival and documentary content to its global customer base outside of China.

Established in 2000, Visual China owns and manages China’s largest premium digital visual content platform, and provides still imagery, videos, music, multimedia and digital content to approximately 15,000 advertisers and media outlets in China. It also operates Tungstar.com, providing premium entertainment content and integrated marketing solutions to media agencies, advertisers, film-makers, producers and celebrities. “The transaction strengthens our dominant position in China’s image industry, enhances our core competence in the global high-end image market, and marks a significant milestone on our journey of globalization,” said Amy Jun Liang, CEO of Visual China, in a statement.

Corbis was established in 1989 by Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates. Then named Interactive Home Systems, it was intended to provide famous art work with which people could decorate their homes.

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