Baidu launches crowd-funding platform

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Chinese internet search giant Baidu has launched a crowd-funding platform, Baifa Youxi, which enables members of the public to invest in big-ticket films.

Baidu is launching the fund in partnership with CITIC Bank, Taiwan’s Central Picture Corporation and Hong Kong law firm DeHeng.

Members of the public will be able to invest in movie projects with a minimum investment as low as $1.63. Yields will be based on box office performance but can up to as high as 16%.

The first project offered by the fund was Ann Hui’s The Golden Era, starring Tang Wei and Feng Shaofeng, which opens in China next week. Baidu reportedly raised $2.93m (RMB18m) for the film, around 20% above target, from 3,300 small investors.

In April, Baidu’s internet rival Alibaba launched a similar crowd-funding platform, Yulebao, which offered investment in films such as Guo Jingming’s Tiny Times 3, Sun Zhou’s Impossible and Jean-Jacques Annaud’s Wolf Totem.

Baidu owns two online video portals – iQiyi and PPS – and also launched a content production division, iQiyi Pictures, in July.