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November 4, 2009

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Chinese film studio eyes IPO on NYSE

A THIRD leading Chinese movie studio is aiming for a listing - this time on the New York Stock Exchange - as the country's entertainment companies turn to the capital markets to raise funds.

Beijing Polybona Film Distribution Co is aiming to go public in the second half of next year or the first half of 2011, Chief Executive Yu Dong said yesterday. The company will start drafting its listing application early next year, he said.

Polybona's rivals are making similar moves. Huayi Brothers Media Corp debuted on the Nasdaq-style ChiNext market in Shenzhen last Friday, surging 148 percent on its first day of trading. The state-run China Film Group is planning to list in Shanghai, spokesman Weng Li said recently.

Yu said he wants to list Polybona in the United States, where entertainment stocks are common, to open up the company to American and other foreign investors.

China still restricts foreign access to its domestic stock markets to certain institutional investors.

He said Polybona has already received funding from the venture capital firms Sequoia Capital and Matrix Partners China, with the second company investing 100 million yuan (US$15 million).

"The capital markets are starting to recognize Chinese movie studios," he said.

The executive declined to reveal Polybona's revenue or profits, but said he estimates its movies will account for 800 million yuan to 1 billion yuan, or 20 percent of the Chinese box office this year.

Polybona's businesses encompass movie distribution, production and multiplexes. Among its recent slate of productions are the upcoming Jackie Chan historical epic "Big Soldier," the historical thriller "Bodyguards and Assassins," starring Donnie Yen, the police thriller "Overheard" and "Mulan."


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