Chinese Firm Recon AG In Talks To Buy Millennium Films
Tony Xia’s Beijing-based Recon AG has been kicking the tires of Millennium Films for what the Chinese firm hopes to be an outright purchase of the independent film company which has financed and produced such titles as The Expendables franchise, Olympus Has Fallen , London Has Fallen and The Mechanic.
It is known that Recon AG has been in and out of Millennium offices and helping the company talk strategy. The move comes after Millennium has already opened its doors to the Chinese. It recently entered into deals on two films with China’s Hishow Entertainment to co-finance and co-produce Hunter Killer and Escobar (Hishow is the same company that handled The Imitation Game in China).
According to Bloomberg, were Recon’s purchase of Millennium to advance, it would likely go through Shenzhen-listed Recon Wenyuan Cable Co. Its shares have been halted from trading since January 26 pending an acquisition in the film industry.
Millennium was founded in 1996, a spin-off of Nu Image, which the company’s Avi Lerner launched years earlier and began building with his brother Danny Lerner. From small beginnings at the AFM with home entertainment titles, the company grew as it moved more mainstream and began packaging films with name talent.
Millennium is an already known brand to Chinese moviegoers thanks to The Expendables series. Those films’ co-star Jason Statham is also a big draw in China where Millennium’s Mechanic: Resurrection last year was a muscular hit with about $50M. The company has good relationships in the Middle Kingdom.
China's Recon Group in Talks to Acquire Millennium Films (Report)
The Chinese conglomerate bought British soccer team Aston Villa from the former owner of the Cleveland Browns last year. Chinese conglomerate Recon Group is in talks to acquire Avi Lerner's Millennium Films, producer of The Expendables franchise and genre flicks such as Olympus Has Fallen.
The purchase would be made through Recon's Shenzhen stock exchange-listed subsidiary Recon Wenyuan Cable Co., Bloomberg reported Tuesday, citing two unnamed sources. No potential price tag was reported.
Headed by Chinese businessman Tony Xia, Recon took over Wenyuan Cable — a manufacturer of wires and cables — last October and has sought to shift the company's focus to entertainment. Last May, the parent company, which owns businesses in industries ranging from infrastructure to healthcare, bought British soccer club Aston Villa from Randy Lerner, former owner of the Cleveland Browns, for an estimated $101 million.
Founded in 1996 by Avi Lerner and Trevor Short, Los Angeles-based Millennium Films has been courting potential Chinese buyers for the past year, sources in Beijing tell THR.
Several of the company's genre films have found big success at China's box office. Expendables 2, which was co-financed and distributed by Beijing's Le Vision Pictures, earned $57 million in China in 2012. Last year, Mechanic: Resurrection brought in $49 million there, while London Has Fallen pulled in $52 million.
Over the past few years, Chinese firms have been acquiring U.S. media companies with ever greater frequency. Other high-profile acquisitions include Dalian Wanda Group's purchase of Legendary Entertainment and Dick Clark Productions, for $3.5 billion and $1 billion, respectively. Last summer, Los Angeles-based Tang Media Partners, which is backed by Chinese investment, snapped up Stuart Ford's IM Global, while Alibaba Pictures Group took a stake in Steven Spielberg's Amblin Entertainment.
Wenyuan Cable has a market value of about $1.2 billion. The company's stock has been suspended from trading since Jan. 26 pending an acquisition in the film sector, according to regulatory filings.
Whether Wenyuan Cable, an untested firm new to entertainment, could close a sizable cross-border film acquisition in the current regulatory climate is an open question. Late last year, China's regulators began scrutinizing overseas media deals much more closely. The clampdown is part of a broad effort to curb capital flight, which is seen as contributing to the devaluation of the Chinese currency. Regulators also are concerned about publicly traded manufacturing firms using high-profile diversifications into entertainment — a trendy sector among Chinese investors — as a short-term strategy to boost stock prices.
Millennium Films in Sale Talks With China’s Recon (Report)
Avi Lerner’s Millennium Films /Nu Image may be in sale talks with Chinese financier Recon group, according to reports.
Bloomberg News Tuesday reported two unnamed sources close to Recon suggesting that Recon might attempt to buy Los Angeles-based producer and sales agent Millennium. Bloomberg’s sources said that Recon might use Shenzhen-listed subsidiary Recon Wenyuan Cable.
Recon is headed by Chinese businessman Tony Xia (aka Xia Jiantong.) In 2016 Recon bought control of the English soccer club Aston Villa in a deal reported to have been worth $101 million.
Millennium, which has previously produced “The Expendables” action franchise movies, is known to have been in talks with several Chinese firms over the past year. Sources in China have put the asking price north of $300 million.
The company has regularly turned to China for movie finance. Parts of “The Expendables” franchise were financed in association with China’s Le Vision Pictures, part of the LeEco cluster of companies. Earlier this week in Berlin, it was announced that Chinese distributor and financier Hishow had come on board two of Millennium’s current movies, “Hunter Killer,” and “Escobar.”
Recon bought Aston Villa from American businessman Randy Lerner. The relationship, if any, between between Randy Lerner and Avi Lerner is currently unclear.
Aston Villa reported that Recon is a “privately owned holding company that owns the controlling interest in five publicly listed companies on the Hong Kong and Chinese stock exchanges.” That statement was later changed after investigations showed that Recon’s major asset was a 75% interest in Lotus Health, a major producer of food additive monosodium glutamate. Xia is chairman of Shanghai listed Lotus.
Other reports, however, have suggested that Recon has interests including financial services, IT, health and agriculture. At the time of the Aston Villa transaction, Recon said that it planned to buy clubs in other countries including India, Spain and the U.S. in order to establish a new sports division.