China’s stock market regulator has hung a warning sign – almost literally – on Yinji Media, the listed Chinese division of DMG Entertainment. The China Securities Regulatory Commission earlier this week ordered that the stock’s name be re-designated as “ST Yinji,” or “Special Treatment Yinji,” as a warning to investors of particularly high risk.
The order, which was issued Monday, is a sign of the mounting problems at DMG, the splashy company founded by Dan Mintz, Peter Xiao and Wu Bing. DMG, which has been involved in “Iron Man 3,” the “Point Break” remake, “Transcendence,” and the “Valiant” comics properties, has lately seen its market capitalization plunge to one-sixth of what it was just two years ago.
DMG and its former head of motion pictures, Chris Fenton, are currently locked in a legal battle in California, with Fenton suing DMG for a $30 million share of the profits that came from Yinji’s 2014 IPO on the Shenzhen Stock Exchange. DMG has launched a counterclaim, also seeking $30 million in damages, and accusing Fenton of fraud, breach of fiduciary duty, and negligence.
The ST label was introduced by Chinese regulators in 2013. It is used either when a company has been in loss for two consecutive years or is in danger of being de-listed. The ST system also reduces stock volatility by imposing a 5% per day cap on price movements, either up or down.
After a massive 2018 loss, partly due to a writedown of impaired assets, Yinji issued a March 30 forecast, warning of further losses in the first quarter of 2019. It said that it could lose RMB33 million to RMB49.5 million ($4.9 million to $7.37 million) as a result of its capital problems, its frozen bank accounts, and the knock-on effect on day-to-day operations.
Since receiving the “special treatment” tag, ST Yinji shares have declined by the daily limit for five consecutive days, forcing the company to put out a further notice about unusual stock movements.
In other filings this week, Yinji announced that it had received a RMB6.6 million ($980,000) repayment of a loan made to co-founder Xiao. It also revealed that it had lost a civil court case over a contract for set-top decoders, and that it had been order to pay $6.7 million (RMB45 million).
DMG is now in a vastly different situation from just a few years ago, when it announced a succession of grand projects. These included assembling a $256 million fund to make a bid for Forbes magazine, a $230 million deal with a Korean hedge fund to invest in mainland Chinese movie theaters, and appointing financial advisers to assist with a possible bid for part of Paramount Pictures.
In 2015, Mintz also announced a $600 million bid for Eastern Broadcasting, one of the largest cable TV providers in Taiwan. He was at pains to point out that the offer did not come from Yinji but from the U.S. part of DMG. The bid collapsed after a year-long probe by Taiwanese regulators.
At the Friday closing price of RMB3.17 per share, the company has a market capitalization of $834 million (RMB5.61 billion). A couple of years ago it was valued at $5 billion.
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