Alibaba Pictures Group, the beleaguered entertainment and film unit of China e-commerce leader Alibaba Group, said Thursday it lost 1.15 billion yuan, or $164 million, in the 12 months ending March 31, four times its loss of 254 million yuan a year earlier.
The loss was in line with a Hong Kong stock filing in April in which Alibaba Pictures said it expected to lose up to 1.1 billion yuan to 1.2 billion yuan of losses.
The company cited adverse affects from the Covid-19 outbreak (see statement here) and impairments. Movie theaters in much of China – and worldwide – have been shut for much this year to slow the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic; major film releases have been delayed. Businesses including Cineworld Group, AMC, Wanda Film Holding and Disney have all been hurt.
Alibaba Pictures’ latest losses mark its fourth straight year of red ink. It also lost 1.8 billion yuan for the 15 months ending March 31, 2018, and 958.6 million yuan for the year ended December 31, 2016. It made 466 million yuan in 2015, but lost 415 million yuan in 2014. All in all, the losses total more than the equivalent of $500 million during the period.
Alibaba Group, whose main founder is billionaire Jack Ma, made a big push into the entertainment industry in 2014 just ahead of its world-record IPO at the New York Stock Exchange. Alibaba Group purchased a 60% stake in ChinaVision Media Group, a Hong Kong-listed media and program content producer, for $805 million at a price of HK$0.50 a share in June 2014. The stock tripled in connection with the announcement, and ChinaVision changed its name to Alibaba Pictures. Shares peaked at HK$4.90 in 2015; they closed at HK$0.94 on Thursday and have lost more than 40% of their value in the past year.
Alibaba Group, whose businesses also include finance, logistics and supermarkets, owns 50.6% of Alibaba Pictures, according to Alibaba Pictures’ latest interim report.
While traditional entertainment businesses have struggled this year, online platforms like ByteDance, the parent of TikTok that offers a similar service under the name Douyin in China, and Bilibili have outperformed.
Bilibili, whose New York-traded shares have more than doubled in the past year, generated its second billionaire executive this month – founder Yi Xu. CEO Chen Rui debuted on 2020 Forbes Billionaires List earlier this year. Bilibili’s investors also include Alibaba and Sony.
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Source: Forbe Billionaires