China’s Role in Hollywood Grows With Bison Takeover of Cinedigm

China’s Role in Hollywood Grows With Bison Takeover of Cinedigm

Bison Capital, a Hong Kong-based investor in film and TV production, agreed to acquire a majority stake in Cinedigm Corp., which creates programs for Netflix Inc. and other online outlets

Bison will buy 20 million newly issued shares of Cinedigm for up to $30 million and provide as much as $10 million in working capital, according to a statement Thursday. Los Angeles-based Cinedigm is also in talks to exchange its 5.5 percent convertible notes due in 2035.

The takeover of Cinedigm, which got its start helping smaller theater chains convert to digital projection, highlights the growing interest Chinese investors have in owning the films and TV shows that play in their fast-growing domestic market.

“Despite its rapid growth, China remains greatly under-served in terms of content quality and diversity,” Peixin Xu, founder of Bison Capital, said in the statement. “We will leverage Cinedigm’s content access and distribution capabilities to bring more premium, independent content into the China market.”

Bison could also “launch Chinese content channels in the North American market,” he said.

Cinedigm has remade itself into an online distributor of niche programs such as art-house films, documentaries and older TV shows like “Hart to Hart” and has online channels including CONtv, for the Comic Con Network. The company had been evaluating takeover approaches over the past couple years, people familiar with the situation said previously.

Bison Capital already has stakes in entertainment-related assets such as Bona Film, according to the statement. It will also work with Cinedigm to refinance and retire its debt. The company had $149 million in long-term obligations as of Dec. 31.