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China’s LeEco Raises $2.2 Billion, Buys LeYoung Pictures

Variety logo Variety 3/31/2017 Patrick Frater
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LeEco, the troubled Chinese technology and entertainment conglomerate, has raised some $2.2 billion of fresh capital. It will use a portion of that to buy up film production company, Le Young Pictures.

In regulatory filings in Shanghai, LeShi Technology, one of the listed parts of the LeEco corporate cluster, said that the new funding had come principally from Tianjin Jiarui Huixin Corporate Management and property developer Sunac China.

The funds will be used to bolster LeShi Internet Information, smart TV unit LeShi Zhixin and film production unit LeVision Pictures. Earlier this week, tech firm Compal said that it too would take a stake in LeShi Zhixin.

There was no public comfort for Coolpad, LeEco’s smartphone manufacturing unit, which has a separate listing on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange. In a filing Friday Coolpad said that auditors had requested more information and that the company would miss the official deadline for declaring its 2016 financial results.

LeShi will also buy the 48% stake in Le Young Pictures, a production company controlled by Gan Wei, actress and wife of LeEco founder Jia Yueting. The move is intended to eliminate conflict of interest with LeEco’s entertainment activities.

In February, Le Young announced that it had raised an undisclosed amount of Series A funding from investors including Linmon Pictures and CDH Fund. The investments were said to have given an implied valuation of $174 million (RMB1.2 billion) to the 2015 startup company. Le Young has produced TV and web series, with time traveling series “Go Princess Go” its most successful to date. It is reported to be working with Fox and Korean Broadcasting System to produce a Korean version of the series.

In October, LeEco revealed that its organic and acquisitive expansion had over-stretched the company’s finances. It was announced this week that it had sold a $260 million plot of land in Silicon Valley, where it plans to build electric cars. And unconfirmed reports this week also said that LeEco’s $2 billion bid for U.S. smart TV maker Vizio would not go ahead.

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