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Fosun to Invest in Ex-Warner Bros President’s Filmmaker

Fosun International Ltd., controlled by Chinese billionaire Guo Guangchang, said it is investing in a filmmaker founded by the former president of Warner Bros Pictures Inc. to tap into growing demand in China.

The Shanghai-based company signed an agreement to invest in Jeff Robinov’s Studio 8, Fosun said in a statement today, without giving details. Robinov spent 17 years at California-based Warner Bros, including his last stint as film chief.

Chinese demand for entertainment and motion pictures are growing in tandem with rising income, helping its movie market surpass Japan as the second-largest in the world. The partnership will allow Fosun to produce films with Studio 8, and gives Fosun “significant influence” over the distribution of the movies in the China region, the Chinese company said.

Robinov, who stepped down last June, oversaw movies such as The Dark Knight trilogy, and Oscar winning movies Gravity and Argo, Fosun said in today’s statement.

Fosun, a Chinese conglomerate involved in sectors from real estate to pharmaceuticals, is one of China’s most active acquirers overseas. The company has announced $3.2 billion of acquisitions in the past three years, including One Chase Manhattan Plaza in New York and 80 percent of Portugal’s Caixa Geral de Depositos SA’s insurance business, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

The Chinese government plans to use tax breaks and subsidies to boost its motion-picture industry, and will use 100 million yuan ($16 million) to support five to 10 films a year, according to a statement posted on the Finance Ministry’s website on June 19.

An investment plan by Beijing-based Huayi Brothers Media Corporation in Studio 8 fell apart, the Wall Street Journal reported on June 19, citing unidentified people familiar with the matter.

The deal is the latest example of Chinese investors’ interest in the U.S. film industry. Chinese private equity firm Hony Capital Ltd. in March agreed to invest in a new movie studio to be set up by Hollywood producers Robert Simonds and Gigi Pritzker.

(An earlier version of this story was corrected to specify the acqusition of the insurance business.)

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