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Li Ruigang‘s China Media Capital (CMC) has acquired a minority stake in Imagine Entertainment, the iconic production studio founded and led by the Academy Award and Emmy-winning team of Brian Grazer and Ron Howard. The deal is part of a significant investment in the Hollywood studio led by global merchant bank The Raine Group, which was announced last month. Additional strategic co-investors brought in by Raine included the Antenna Group and WPP. Raine has a history of partnering with successful content creators to help fuel their further growth. Past Raine investments include Vice Media, Matt Stone and Trey Parker’s Important Studios, action sports company Nitro Circus and fantasy sports operator Draft Kings. “Through the investment in Imagine Entertainment, we will team up with the top production team in Hollywood to further enter into the heartland of the world’s movie and television industries,” Li said. Li, who was dubbed as China’s Rupert Murdoch for his media holdings, said the acquisition would enhance China’s influence in the world industry and promote Chinese culture to the rest of the world, according to the South China Morning Post. “The ways in which content is created and consumed are transforming faster than ever before, expanding in directions that hadn’t been conceived even a few years ago,” said Grazer. “The opportunity to extend Imagine’s reach across this expanding landscape is a driving force for us.” “We have built our business on the principle that content and creators are the most valuable elements in today’s media ecosystem,” said Raine co-founder Joe Ravitch. “Imagine’s well-established reputation as a talent-friendly creative partner was incredibly important to us, and we look forward to helping them grow their business and continue to tell amazing stories and astonish and delight global audiences as they continue in this tradition.” In connection with the transaction, both Ravitch and Erik Hodge, who heads Raine’s entertainment practice, will join Imagine’s board. The new funding will provide Imagine with the backing to continue its strong growth trajectory under the leadership of Grazer and Howard, enabling the company to invest in content directly with other artists. In addition to television and film production, Imagine will continue to expand into new areas such as branded content, location based entertainment and digital formats, taking advantage of new technologies and forms of distribution. The company expects to explore both organic growth opportunities as well as potential acquisitions. China Media Capital (CMC), founded by Li in 2009 and based in Shanghai, is a State-backed private equity fund focused on the media and entertainment sectors, both in China and internationally. Li set up CMC with backing from his then employer Shanghai Media Group, one of China’s most powerful state broadcasters, and China Development Bank. In October 2015, CMC agreed to pay a record $1.3 billion for all-media exclusive 5-year global broadcast rights to Chinese Super League soccer. In September 2015, CMC and Warner Bros. Entertainment agreed to form Flagship Entertainment Group, a joint venture to develop and produce a slate of Chinese-language films, including global tentpoles, for distribution around the world, including China. In January 2015, CMC partnered with IMAX China in a $50 million joint venture fund to target Mandarin-language movies. Last year, a CMC-led consortium also paid $400 million (HK$3.1 billion) for a 13 per cent stake in City Football Group. In 2012 CMC entered into a joint venture with Jeffrey Katzenberg’s Dreamworks Animation SKG Inc to form Oriental DreamWorks, a transmedia powerhouse. CMC has stakes in Hong Kong broadcaster TVB and is also building a Legoland theme park in Shanghai. Imagine Entertainment was founded in 1986 by Ron Howard and Brian Grazer to create independently produced feature films, television programs and other original programming. The company has been honored with more than 60 prestigious awards including 10 Academy Awards and 40 Emmy awards. Past productions include Academy Award Best Picture winner A Beautiful Mind as well as 8 Mile, Apollo 13, American Gangster, The Da Vinci Code, Liar, Liar, Backdraft, and Parenthood to name a few. Upcoming films include Inferno, American Made, Lowriders and The Dark Tower. Current television productions include Fox’s Empire and Shot’s Fired and NatGeo’s Breakthrough and Mars. Past Television productions include NBC’s Parenthood, NBC’s Friday Night Lights, Fox’s 24 and 24: Live Another Day, Fox’s and Netflix’s Arrested Development, PBS’s Curious George, as well as HBO’s From the Earth to the Moon, for which Howard and Grazer won the Emmy for Outstanding Mini-Series. Ron Howard and Brian Grazer began their collaboration in 1985 with the hit comedies Night Shift and Splash, and continue to run Imagine Entertainment as executive chairmen. The Raine Group is a global merchant bank focused exclusively on technology, media, and telecommunications. Raine has in excess of $2 billion in assets under management. The firm has offices in New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles, London, and Shanghai. With a global reach, Raine focuses on investment and advisory opportunities where its deep industry experience and unique network of strategic relationships can create value for portfolio companies and clients.]]>