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Alibaba Pictures Achieves First Profits

Driven largely by financial gains, Alibaba Pictures Group revealed its first profits since the company’s reincarnation as the film making arm of Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba.

For 2015, APG revealed net revenue of $40.6 million (RMB264 million) and net profits of $71.7 million (RMB466 million.) That compares with a loss of $64.2 million (RMB417) million in 2014, when the Hong Kong- and Singapore-listed ChinaVision was acquired by Alibaba and reinvented as its film vehicle.

The doubling of revenues reflects some six months inclusion of Yueke, a ticketing technology business that it acquired for $128 million (RMB830 million.)

The swing from loss to profit largely reflects the company’s healthy bank balance. During the year APG raised $1.48 billion (RMB9.60 billion) from a share placing and it finished the year with net cash balances of $1.98 billion (RMB12.9 billion.) It also received $2.10 million (RMB13.6 million) of unspecified local government subsidies.

The investment in “Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation” and promotional activities for the movie in China contributed revenue of $10.6 million (RMB68.7 million) to APG and profit of $1.06 million (RMB6.90 million.)

On the last day of the year APG completed the $475 million (RMB3.09 billion) purchase of two film-related assets from parent company Alibaba. They were Taobao Movie, an online movie ticketing operator that is integrated into Alibaba’s online ecosystem, and Yulebao, which it describes as “the world’s first (consumer to business) financing platform for entertainment-related projects.”

The company is now organized into four activities: film and TV content production; Internet-based promotion and distribution, the operation of an integrated O2O platform for the promotion and distribution of entertainment content, as well as online movie ticketing; entertainment e-commerce (Yulebao and online sales of entertainment-related merchandise); and international operations, meaning the commercial involvement in international entertainment related projects and businesses.

APG’s current film productions and investments include: “Ferry Man.” being produced by Wong Kar-wai and starring Tony Leung; “Ao Jiao Yu Pian Jian,” adapted from a popular Chinese online novel: and “Three Lives Three Worlds Ten Miles of Peach Blossom,” whose story is drawn from a popular Chinese novel. Earlier this year it also announced the adaptation of TV drama, “Return of the Pearl Princess”  (aka “My Fair Princess”) into an animation film directed by actress/director Zhao Wei.

Further corporate acquisitions appear on the cards. “To achieve our goal, our management has pursued a strategy of expansion by business acquisitions. We believe this is an effective way to attain strategically important assets for our long-term development,” APG said in a regulatory filing.

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