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Alibaba and Chinese Government Acquire Strategic Stake in World’s Largest Cinema Operator

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Chinese conglomerate Dalian Wanda Group Co Ltd sold a 12.77% stake in its Shenzhen-listed Wanda Film Holdings unit to e-commerce giant Alibaba and state-owned Cultural Investment Holdings Limited (CIH) for 7.8 billion CNY (US$ 1.24 billion), bringing on the pair as the second and third largest shareholders in the world’s largest cinema operator. CIH, also known as Wentou Holdings, is a Shanghai-listed entertainment company controlled by the Cultural Assets Supervision and Administration Office of Beijing. Zhou Maofei is Director of the Cultural Assets Supervision and Administration Office of Beijing and Secretary of the Communist Party of China Leading Group.

Specifics

According to a securities filing released on February 5, 2019, Alibaba will acquire a 7.66% interest in the company through its subsidiary, Hangzhou Zhenxi Investment Management Company, while CIH will take on a 5.11% stake, leaving Wanda Group a controlling interest of 48.09%. Alibaba will leverage its strengths in big data, technology, and online ticket sales – as well as its collection of IP-producing media and entertainment assets – to collaborate with Wanda Film in the areas of film distribution, marketing, and related businesses, while CIH will lend its expertise in driving cultural tourism opportunities, according to a press release.

CIH has its origins as an auto parts company back in the 1990s, eventually moving into film by 2016. CIH spent US$ 187 million for a 75% stake in Framestore, a U.K.-based visual effects studio, which worked on movies such as The Martian, Harry Potter, Gravity and The Dark Knight.

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Mubadala and SAMI Forge Ties to Explore Areas of Collaboration

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Mubadala Investment Company and Saudi Arabia Military Industries Company (SAMI), which is a defence company owned by Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF), agreed to a deal to partner and co-invest in defense manufacturing. This partnership grows defence ties between Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.[ Content protected for Sovereign Wealth Fund Institute Standard subscribers only. Please subscribe to view content. ]

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Cryptocurrencies Creep into the Middle East

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Banking behemoth J.P. Morgan Chase disclosed its own digital currency called JPM Coin. The digital token will be used to settle payments between clients. JPM Coin will be backed by physical U.S. dollars and be based off Quorum. Quorum is J.P. Morgan’s private Ethereum-based chain. JPM Coin plans to compete with Ripple, which created XRP, another digital currency that is used for settlements. Ripple’s main target market is cross-border payments and remittances.

The Central Bank of the United Arab Emirates and the Saudi Arabian Monetary Authority have unveiled their plans for Aber, an interbank digital currency. Both banks have indicated that Aber will be limited to financial settlements using distributed ledger technologies. It will be rolled out on a probational basis, and used by select banks within the two countries. A date for rollout has not yet been declared. A joint statement hinted at a broader application of the currency in the days ahead. If “no technical obstacles are encountered, economic and legal requirements for future uses will be considered.”‏ Blockchains and Distributed Ledgers technologies will be employed. The plan is for ‘Proof-of-Concept’ testing, which involves studying and fully comprehending the ways modern technologies can achieve practical applications. The digital currency has the potential to become a reserve system for central payments.

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CPPIB Inks Partnership Vehicle with La Française and its Shareholder CMNE

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La Française and Canada Pension Plan Investment Board (CPPIB) formed a strategic partnership for the launch of a real estate investment and development vehicle: Société Foncière et Immobilière du Grand Paris. The joint venture between CPPIB (80%) and Caisse Fédérale du Crédit Mutuel Nord Europe (CMNE) (20%), La Française’s shareholder, will invest in major real estate projects linked to the Grand Paris infrastructure in the Greater Paris area. The parties will initially allocate €387.5 million in equity to the venture. The partnership will target regeneration and infrastructure-led investments.[ Content protected for Sovereign Wealth Fund Institute Standard subscribers only. Please subscribe to view content. ]

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