The former producer of “The Voice of China” has completed pre-IPO fundraising, earning a valuation of 21 billion yuan ($3.2 billion) — though trademark disputes involving the Dutch creator of the show and several Chinese licensees remain unsettled.
Shanghai Canxing Culture & Broadcast Co. Ltd. did not clarify how much the round brought in, but said Tuesday it would be applying for an initial public offering (IPO) in China.
“The pre-IPO fund signals that Canxing has entered the final stage of going public,” the company said in a statement.
But in January 2016, another Chinese television producer, Zhejiang Talent Television & Film Co. Ltd., announced it had bought “The Voice of China” brand, including trademark, production, broadcasting and gaming rights. Talpa later confirmed the deal.
The sudden change occurred when Canxing was preparing the fifth season of the show, and was followed by lawsuits and arbitrations that Talpa and its new partner, Zhejiang Talent, filed against Canxing and its related companies.
In July 2016, Canxing changed the name and format of the show in an attempt to avoid trademark disputes and keep the program going. Some key elements were also discarded, such as the four red leather chairs that judges sit in as they turn to face the contestants they like.
The revamped show never reached the prior version’s popularity. Audience ratings for the latest season, which began in July, put the show in the second and sometimes third spot for its timeslot, according to ratings data provider CSM Media Research.
But the entanglement wasn’t over. Canxing’s television channel partner, Zhejiang Satellite Television — which broadcast “The Voice of China” for four years — sued Zhejiang Talent for unfair competition. At the same time, Talpa seemed to be dissatisfied with Zhejiang Talent as its the new partner, because the Dutch company announced it would “terminate its license agreement for ‘The Voice of China’” earlier this month.
Canxing has developed other performance and adventure reality programs, shifting away from copycat shows or foreign templates to creating original content.
It is also diversifying its income channels by expanding into music, livestreaming and tourism.
The entertainment producer said the funds it raised will help it to bring in several strategic investors to optimize its shareholding structure and accumulate capital for expansion into the internet.
–This article originally appeared on Caixin Global.