First Vanguard Plans $100 Million Movie Fund

SINGAPORE (Reuters) – Hong Kong asset manager First Vanguard said on Monday it has linked up with movie producer Raymond Wong to launch a $100 million fund that will invest in movies and TV programmes targeting the Chinese market.

Wong, whose recent movie “Ip Man”, a biography of martial arts star Bruce Lee, won the top prize at this year’s Hong Kong film awards, will be the fund’s investment adviser, First Vanguard Chief Investment Officer Richard Yin told Reuters.

Wong will also be executive producer for movies the fund invests in.

“In the last few years the movie industry has changed because films that are produced in Hong Kong are allowed to be widely distributed in China,” Yin said.

“In the 1990s, everyone lost money in Hong Kong because the market was small and there were lots of private DVDs and all that,” he added. “The China market has changed the paradigm.”

Hong Kong is known as the “Hollywood of the East” and its stars and movie productions have a strong following in China, Taiwan and Southeast Asia, where there are large Chinese communities.

Under a 2005 agreement, Chinese-language movies produced by Hong Kong firms are exempt from China’s import quotas on foreign films, subject to vetting by mainland authorities.

Besides helping Hong Kong, an autonomous region of China, Beijing also wants to grow its domestic culture and entertainment industries and is encouraging firms to go public or seek private equity investors to fund their productions.

First Vanguard, which was founded in 2004, currently manages an Asia-focused private equity fund and a fund that invests in regional real estate. The firm declined to disclose the value of the assets it manages.

The firm is in the midst of raising money for a China-focused fund that will invest in water and environmental projects in partnership with China’s Zhongzhi Enterprise Group.

By Kevin Lim
(Additional reporting by George Chen in HONG KONG, Editing by Ian Geoghegan)