André Rieu Concert Sets UK Box Office Record
Flying the flag for event cinema, André Rieu’s 2014 10th Anniversary Maastricht Concert became the UK’s highest-grossing music event of all time at the box office this weekend. On Saturday and Sunday, CinemaLive screened the concert at 410 locations across the UK and Ireland, grossing $1.42M. The concert also screened at 234 moviehouses in European markets including France, Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium, Denmark, Romania, Finland and Croatia, bringing the total gross box office figure to more than $2.05M for the weekend. Rieu’s July 2013 cinema concert event set UK records with about $766K. The massive jump this year is one more feather in the cap of live event cinema which has been growing in popularity with music- and theater-loving crowds. Classical violinist Rieu, aka “The King of Waltz”, is known for his energetic and festive live performances. He has sold more than 35M albums worldwide. Further screenings of the concert will take place this coming weekend in Australia and New Zealand, followed by Canada, the U.S., Mexico, Russia and South East Asia to ultimately reach more than 1,000 cinema screens in 35 countries. Pretty soon, I’ll have to start adding these to my international weekend box office reports.
Global Showbiz Briefs: André Rieu Sets UK Box Office Record; Venice Critics’ Week Roster; Alibaba Pacts With Helmers; More
André Rieu Concert Sets UK Box Office Record
The deal that the companies struck in May cuts in half Yahoo‘s 40% stake in the Chinese e-commerce giant. But it leaves a big question unanswered: What will Yahoo do with the cash? The company initially said it would return “substantially all” of the proceeds to shareholders. Last month, CEO Marissa Mayer — who took the top job in July — said that she’s rethinking “our restructuring plan, our share repurchase program” and the Alibaba repayment promise as she weighs options to revive the struggling Internet content giant. Yahoo shares are down 2.3% so far in 2012. Here’s today’s announcement about the sale:
Alibaba has reached agreement with Yahoo to buy back about half the U.S. portal’s stake in China’s largest e-commerce provider, Bloomberg reported this evening. Alibaba will repurchase about a 20% stake percent stake in itself for an estimated $7.1 billion ahead of a potential initial public offering. Yahoo will receive at least $6.3 billion in cash and as much as $800 million in newly issued Alibaba preferred stock, the companies said in a statement. Their agreement, which boards of both companies approved, also requires that Alibaba either buy back a quarter of Yahoo’s current stake at the price of a future IPO or let Yahoo sell the shares in the IPO. Alibaba has endeavored to buy back the stock for months. Although the deal reduces Yahoo’s presence in China it may help the U.S. portal’s turnaround efforts. Yahoo said the company intends to return “substantially all” of proceeds of the transaction, after taxes, to shareholders. Yahoo also increased its share buyback authorization by $5 billion with the agreement, and Alibaba will make an initial upfront royalty payment of $550 million and continue royalty payments for up to four years. Alibaba will also be allowed to operate under the Yahoo brand in China for up to four years. Restrictions on Yahoo’s ability to make other investments in China also will be eliminated.
Yahoo is reconsidering a proposal to dramatically reduce its 40% stake in the Chinese Internet company Alibaba Holdings and to sell its 35% stake in Yahoo Japan, according to multiple reports that value the overall transaction at between $17 billion and $18 billion. Yahoo’s market capitalization before news broke of the possible deal was about $18.5 billion. The deal is valued at close to $14 a Yahoo share, sources said. The way it might work is that Alibaba and Softbank, Yahoo Japan’s majority owner, would create new separate entities that would consist of stock and some operating assets. This would allow Yahoo to swap out most of its stake in Alibaba and all of its stake in Yahoo Japan. Under US tax law the transaction would count as a swap not subject to taxes rather than a sale, which would. Yahoo is expected to keep a 15% percent stake in Alibaba which would allow it to hold on to a piece of the fast-growing company. It is also possible that investment companies Silver Lake and TPG Capital could join the deal for a minority stake. Yahoo’s board may still reject the offers but momentum seems to be building toward a deal. Separately, however, Alibaba and Softbank stand ready to bid for all of Yahoo, sources said, in the event the board nixes the plan. While the once high-flying Yahoo has been eclipsed by Facebook and Google, it remains …
Yahoo has fielded offers this week from at least three bidders seeking a stake of about 20% of the company, the Wall Street Journal and Bloomberg reported, and the company’s directors will likely discuss those offers at a regularly scheduled board meeting Wednesday in Sunnyvale, Calif. Bidders include private-equity firm TPG Capital and a group consisting of Silver Lake Partners, Microsoft Corp. and others. Separately the Chinese online company Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. and Softbank Corp. are looking to buy back Yahoo’s 40% stake in Alibaba and 35% stake in Yahoo Japan, sources said. Yahoo is also expected to receive an update on a continuing strategic review of the company at Wednesday’s board meeting. Yahoo would like to strike a deal on the minority stake sale by the end of the year, but failing that alternatives will be considered. The bids received this week place a per-share value on Yahoo of between $16 and $18, the sources said. Yahoo seeks a slightly higher price. The aforementioned firms have signed confidentiality agreements that limit their potential purchase to a minority stake. Bain, Blackstone and other firms including Providence Equity Partners and Hellman & Friedman have not signed confidentiality agreements with Yahoo because it would prevent them from going after the whole company. Additionally, Thomas H. Lee Partners is investigating an offer for Yahoo’s U.S. operations such as Yahoo Finance and Yahoo News and an Internet advertising business, other people familiar …
Advertising Up 12.5% For China’s Biggest Broadcaster
Foreign and Chinese advertisers will pay about $2.25 billion next year for time on China’s biggest television network CCTV. That’s up roughly 12.5% over 2011. That may seem high compared to the rest of the world which is generally chalking up low single-digit growth, but China has been accustomed to annual hikes ranging from 15% to 18.5% during the past five years. Similar to the US networks’ upfront market, CCTV’s auction of TV time for the coming year is seen as a benchmark for not only China’s ad industry but the country’s economy as a whole. One of the largest bidders was white-spirits company Kweichow Moutai Co., which pledged $78.4 million. Bank of China committed $12 million for a 10-second slot after the evening news in January and February during peak viewership for special Chinese New Year programming. Internet companies including 360buy.com and Alibaba were the fastest growing advertisers representing a 7.7% increase over 2011. In general Western companies were less aggressive this year, but Volkswagen AG was one of the largest foreign advertisers according to Beijing ad agency Charm Communications. Procter & Gamble Co. pledged $25.2 million. Separately, CCTV plans to open a new HQ in Washington, D.C., in January as part of an agressive foreign expansion.
Duncan Gray Named Creative Director Of Princess Productions
Princess Productions today announced the appointment of Duncan Gray, currently Head of Entertainment Commissioning for Sky. Gray will join the company as Creative Director in early 2012, reporting …
Alibaba Group’s Chief Exec Wants To Buy Yahoo
Jack Ma, chairman and CEO of China’s e-commerce company Alibaba Group, said he is “very, very interested” in acquiring Yahoo and discussed options with other potential buyers, according to Reuters. Buying the entire company might be a reach for Alibaba. Ma had tried to buy back Yahoo’s 40% stake in his company before, but was rebuffed by recently fired CEO Carol Bartz. Alibaba formed a strategic partnership with Yahoo in 2005, acquiring Yahoo China. Ma talked about his intentions at the China 2.0 conference at Stanford University on Friday, but said he had not met with anyone at Yahoo since arriving in the U.S. two weeks ago. Yahoo last week told staff of its sale progress and its search for a new CEO.
Complaints And Parents’ Concerns Spur New Guidelines From Ofcom
UK media regulator Ofcom is handing down new guidelines about sexually explicit music videos airing before the 9 PM watershed. In its warning to broadcasters, the watchdog included research that showed 11% of parents were concerned about raunchy performances in music videos. Broadcasters are also being asked to mask or edit any offensive language. The guidelines come after last year’s X Factor controversy in which Ofcom received 4,500 complaints about performances by Rihanna and Christina Aguilera. It also recently received complaints for a 9 AM airing on Greatest Hits TV of a 50 Cent video featuring topless dancers.