Singapore and Gobi Partners form a $74 million China media fund

12 August 2010 22 h 22 min 22 comments

Singapore’s Media Development Authority just announced it has formed a $74 million venture capital fund to invest in digital media and IT startups in both China and Singapore. 

The MDA, which both funds and oversees content production and transmission in Singapore, made the announcement at the China-Singapore Media Industry Exchange, being held alongside the Shanghai World Expo. The new fund will be managed by China-based Gobi Partners.

This is the second major announcement to emerge between the two countries in the last few weeks, with a China-Singapore film co-production agreement signed in late July 2010.
“Aside from film, music and TV, Chinese and Singapore media companies are forging ties in the burgeoning digital media space. Hence, against the backdrop of the Shanghai World Expo, we are organizing the Singapore Media Showcase and China-Singapore Media Industry Exchange to raise awareness of Singapore’s digital media capability among the Chinese public and industry players,” said Dr. Tan Chin Nam, chairman of the MDA, in a statement.

The new venture capital fund will identify early- and growth-stage digital media and technology companies in both countries, and support their efforts to penetrate either Asian market. “The S$100 million (US$73.9 million) Gobi Singapore-China Media Ventures Fund will target early- and growth-stage digital media and technology companies,” according to a statement released Monday by Singapore’s Media Development Authority (MDA).

The fund, which is structured as 50 percent Singapore dollars and 50 percent Chinese yuan, will be managed in Singapore by Gobi Partners, a China-based VC firm. Established in 2002, Gobi Partners has about US$250 million in its portfolio of assets and three funds in China. To date, it has invested in 24 companies. Gobi will provide funding support for Singapore companies looking to penetrate the Chinese market. Similarly, the VC player will identify and assist Chinese startups with the intention to enter the Singapore market. In an interview with ZDNet Asia, Ku Kay Mok, partner at Gobi Singapore, said “the firm has identified some candidates and is in the process of evaluating them but he declined to state the number of companies being considered for the fund.”

According to an MDA spokesperson, “games, e-learning and IPTV (Internet Protocol television) are possible areas of investment under the new fund”. The Authority played a “catalytic role” in the establishment of the fund but will not be involved in the selection process.

The MDA-Gobi alliance is one of 18 business deals and MOU (Memorandum of Understanding) signings announced by the Singapore media regulator on the sidelines of the Expo 2010 in Shanghai.

According to ZDNet, “another bilateral digital media-industry collaboration aims to produce the first co-developed game by the two countries. Singapore-based Mikoishi has partnered the China Information Broadcast Network (CIBN) to develop and launch a massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG), which will be designed for the global market and distributed in China by the CIBN.”

Tan Chin Nam noted in the statement that “the two countries have built up media ties since the 1980s, with bilateral media relations reaching new heights last month with the signing of the China-Singapore Film Coproduction Agreement. This is aimed at facilitating more content creation partnerships between both countries. As China’s media industry makes tremendous strides and Singapore ramps up the development of its media sector, we believe there are many opportunities for companies from both countries to gain new ground through mutually beneficially partnerships,” Tan said. “Singapore looks forward to partnering with China to address business opportunities in each other’s markets and the international arena, embarking on a new ‘S ‘curve of growth for media business based on win-win collaboration.”

SOURCES: ZDNet Asia (3/08/2010), Xinhua, AP (11/08/2010)

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