Alibaba Pictures, the film division of Jack Ma’s online empire, has announced plans to raise $1.6 billion through a share placement. The Hong Kong-listed film unit said it will use the extra funds on acquisitions to boost its presence in the growing Chinese film market.
Alibaba Pictures has seen its share price rocket by 160% this year amid consumer confidence both in the perception it is being positioned to become a major player in China, and also by a wider keenness for investors in the Middle Kingdom to be involved in media and content generation.
Alibaba Pictures was borne out of the acquisition of a majority 60% stake by Jack Ma’s group in March 2014 for $800 million as the e-commerce entrepreneur sought to add as much value to his group as possible ahead of the ultimately blockbusting IPO last September. The newly-monikered company has gradually been working towards expanding its operations since its launch. In January, it announced it had brought on-board celebrated Hong Kong filmmaker Wong Kar Wai (In The Mood For Love) to produce its first film Bai Du Ren, written and directed by Zhang Jiajia and starring Wong Kar Wai regular Tony Leung (2046).
In March, Ma announced Alibaba had also acquired an 8.8% stake in Enlight, one of China’s leading film and TV production companies, valued at $380 million. In April, shares in Alibaba Pictures soared after its parent company – at one point valued at more than Walmart- announced it was considering an asset injection in the film unit and that it was planning to fold its online movie-ticketing business as well as its movie production crowdfunding business into Alibaba Pictures.
In a statement Alibaba Pictures said it would place 4.2bn shares at HK$2.90 each — a 20% discount to the stock’s last traded price of HK$3.62 at close of trading Monday.