Visual China Group to buy Bill Gates' image library Corbis Images

Chinese image licensing company Visual China Group (VCG) yesterday struck a deal to buy the image division with the content licensing unit of photo library Corbis Entertainment, owned by Bill Gates.

Through this transaction, VCG, China's equivalent of Getty Images, will become the owner of one of the largest photo collections in the world.

The companies did not disclose the financial terms of the deal.

Under the terms of the agreement, Unity Glory, an affiliate of VCG owned by VCG's major shareholders, will own and manage the images and motion archives, names and trademarks associated with the Corbis Images, Corbis Motion and Veer licensing brands.

Amy Jun Liang, CEO of VCG, said, "Corbis is a world-leading and widely esteemed brand in the image industry, and we are thrilled to add this treasure-house of valuable image assets to our premium brand portfolios. The transaction strengthens our dominant position in China's image industry, enhances our core competence in the global high-end image market, and marks a significant milestone on our journey of globalization.''

"Corbis is thriving and growing rapidly as we pursue our strategy in entertainment advertising through our Branded Entertainment Network (BEN)," said Gary Shenk, CEO of Corbis.

"We are pleased to have completed the sale of Corbis Images to Unity Glory. It is clear that the advertising landscape is changing rapidly and we have tremendous opportunities for even more rapid growth as we advance product integration through our Branded Entertainment Network (BEN) platform and other entertainment advertising businesses,'' he added.

Following the sale of its image assets to Unity Glory, Corbis Entertainment will be rebranded in the coming months, and BEN and the other businesses within the division will operate under the new brand name, focusing on entertainment advertising.

Founded by Bill Gates in 1989 under the name Interactive Home Systems, Corbis Images owns a collection of over 100 million photos and 800,000 videos. The photos include some of the most famous and significant images from the 19th century till date.

The Seattle-based company's collection includes contemporary creative, editorial, entertainment, and historical photography as well as art and illustrations.

Founded in 2000, VCG was the first company in China to license image and distribute copyrights through propriety online platforms.

The Shenzhen Stock Exchange-listed company owns and manages China's largest premium digital visual content platform. Through its online licensing and copyright distribution platform VCG.com, the Group offers products including still imagery, videos, music, multimedia and other digital content to approximately 15,000 advertisers, media outlets, businesses and other organizations in China.

It also operates China's largest and most popular branded online communities for designers and photographers.