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China’s Fosun Denies Report of MGM, Miramax Bid Plans

Fosun International, the multidisciplinary Chinese conglomerate behind Jeff Robinov’s Studio 8, denies that it is hatching plans to acquire either MGM or Miramax.

The suggestion by Bloomberg followed the financial news agency’s earlier report that Studio 8 is raising $200 million of new finance in a funding round organized through boutique financier Raine Group. That new funding effort was confirmed to Variety by sources within Fosun, who described it as mundane and business as usual. The sources also said that no plans for major Hollywood purchases have been discussed between Studio 8 and its Chinese parent.

Studio 8 is majority-owned by Fosun International, but remains under the management control of its founder, former Warner Bros. film division chief Robinov. Fosun owns 80% of Studio 8’s A-class shares, which in turn amounts to 60% of the economic interest in the company.

“We are very confident in Jeff and his team,” the source said. “We are pretty happy to see all the projects they’ve developed. They have great potential.”

Started in 2014 with backing from Sony and Fosun, Studio 8 has released only one feature film of note, the Ang Lee-directed “Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk.” It has two films scheduled for release in 2018, “White Boy Rick” and “Alpha.”

Chinese companies were major investors in Hollywood between 2012 and 2016. But their deal-making activities have been severely crimped since then as a result of direct government intervention. Deals over $1 billion have come in for scrutiny, while companies that have high levels of debt have also not been allowed further overseas expansion. In mid-2017, the government clearly spelled out five no-go areas for overseas acquisitions by Chinese companies. They included property, hotels, film, entertainment and industries with poor environmental impact.

Fosun has acquired stakes in Cirque du Soleil, Club Mediterranee and English soccer club Wolverhampton Wanderers. In  recent months it has bought stakes in China’s Tsingtao beer brewery and Austria’s lingerie maker Wolford.

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