Saban Capital, Lionsgate team on Celestial Tiger venture in Asia
Looking to capitalize on the burgeoning Asian market, Saban Capital Group and Lionsgate are partnering with a Hong Kong-based media company to create new TV channels and programming.
The venture — Celestial Tiger Entertainment — will combine several channels owned by new partner Celestial Pictures, which boasts one of the largest Chinese movie channels, Celestial Movies, and a large library of Chinese action films.
Saban Capital and Lionsgate, Hollywood's largest independent film studio, will contribute three channels that they jointly own. The two companies began their collaboration nearly two years ago with the formation of Tiger Gate Entertainment. The three channels — KIX, KIX HD and Thrill — are currently distributed in five territories: Singapore, Hong Kong, Philippines, Thailand and Indonesia.
Saban Capital is the largest financial backer of Celestial Tiger, which will be based in Hong Kong. The company said in a press release that it would make a "significant investment," although it declined to provide a dollar amount.
Controlled by Los Angeles billionaire Haim Saban, Saban Capital has become increasingly active in assembling an Asian portfolio over the last year. It now has the largest stake in Celestial Tiger Entertainment and is an investor in Taomee, one of China's leading children's online entertainment sites.
Last month, Saban Capital announced it was acquiring an interest in another Indonesian media company, MNC.
The other major financial partner in Celestial Tiger is Celestial Pictures, a subsidiary of Astro Holdings, which owns the largest satellite TV service in Malaysia and the Shaw Brothers Film Library, which has more than 750 films.
Lionsgate is not making a financial investment beyond the channels it co-owns with Saban.
— Meg James
Photo of Haim Saban; Credit: Dennis Brack / Bloomberg News