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Alibaba ‘eyes $1.6bn Lionsgate stake’

Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba is reportedly set to move for a 37.4% stake in US studio Lionsgate.

According to the New York Post, Alibaba wants to acquire Lionsgate chairman Mark Rachesky’s stake, which is said to be worth around US$1.6 billion.

Should a deal go through, Alibaba would become the Orange is the New Black studio’s largest individual shareholder. The Post reported Asian bankers as briefing Hollywood investors about Rachesky’s departure, which could be announced any time now.

Alibaba is flush after raising US$25 billion in a record-setting IPO earlier this year, and is said to have identified US film and TV series as assets that it can bring back to China’s growing media markets.

Lionsgate and Alibaba are already partnering to launch a Chinese subscription streaming service, Lionsgate Entertainment World, that will offer AMC’s Mad Men and Showtime’s Weeds, plus the Twilight, Hunger Games and Divergent movie franchises.

Rachesky owns his stake through MHR Fund Managament. This comprises around 51.3 million shares.

In 2010, Rachesky fended off a hostile Lionsgate takeover from activist investor Carl Icahn through a convertible debenture move.

Lionsgate has declined to comment on The Post’s report.