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Saban Capital, Lionsgate find partner for new Asian TV venture

The firm controlled by L.A. billionaire Haim Saban and Hollywood's biggest independent film studio team up with a Hong Kong media company to create new pay TV channels and programming.

December 22, 2011|By Meg James, Los Angeles Times

Looking to capitalize on the burgeoning Asian market, Saban Capital Group and Lionsgate are partnering with a Hong Kong media company to create new pay TV channels and programming.

The venture — Celestial Tiger Entertainment — will launch with six channels, including three 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 the three channels that they jointly own. The two companies began their collaboration nearly two years ago with the formation of Tiger Gate Entertainment. The trio of channels — KIX, KIX HD and Thrill — are currently distributed in five territories: Singapore, Hong Kong, the Philippines, Thailand and Indonesia.

Saban Capital is the leading investor in Celestial Tiger, which will be based in Hong Kong. Saban Capital declined to say how much money it would contribute to the endeavor.

Controlled by Los Angeles billionaire Haim Saban, Saban Capital has become increasingly active in assembling an Asian portfolio over the last year. It is also an investor in Taomee, one of China's leading children's online entertainment sites.

Last month, Saban Capital announced it was acquiring a major interest in Indonesian media company MNC. Saban plans to open an office in Hong Kong in January.

Celestial Pictures, a subsidiary of Astro Holdings, owns the largest satellite TV service in Malaysia, which has 3 million subscribers, 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. Celestial Tiger will, however, be the exclusive television distributor of Lionsgate's movies and TV programs in Southeast Asia.

meg.james@latimes.com

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