Rumors have been rampant for a while. First Shutterstock was believed to be the buyer, a rumor quickly killed by no other than Jon Oringer himself during their last quarterly report. At the last DMLA conference, the target moved to China Visual Group and remained there. It is confirmed today:

LOS ANGELES & BEIJING–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Corbis and Visual China Group (“VCG”; Shenzhen Stock Exchange:000681.SZ) today jointly announced that Unity Glory International Ltd. (“Unity Glory”), an affiliate of VCG owned by VCG’s major shareholders, has acquired the assets and brands of Corbis’ Images division, one of the world’s leading image archives and content licensing businesses. VCG is China’s leading visual communications and new media company and among the largest businesses in the image industry worldwide. Financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed.

Under the terms of the agreement, Unity Glory 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, Chief Executive Officer 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. As one of the most well-established companies in the industry, we work to capture the evolving demand for visual communications around the world with first-class visual content, unparalleled customer experience, and in collaboration with our extensive network of partners.”

For Corbis, the sale of Corbis Images accelerates the company’s transformation into an entertainment advertising business with a particular focus on product integration, providing global brands and media agencies with end-to-end access to film, TV, OTT, digital and celebrity product placement opportunities. Through its Corbis Entertainment division, it launched the Branded Entertainment Network (BEN) two years ago, bringing technology, search, planning and analytics to product integration, making product placement opportunities seamless, efficient and effective as well as driving unprecedented scale on a global basis.

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, reflecting the company’s focus on entertainment advertising.

“Corbis is thriving and growing rapidly as we pursue our strategy in entertainment advertising through our Branded Entertainment Network (BEN),” said Gary Shenk, Chief Executive Officer of Corbis. “We are pleased to have completed the sale of Corbis Images to Unity Glory. We are confident that Unity Glory and VCG will further develop that business in China and other parts of the world and wish them well going forward. 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.”


In a Chinese version of the press release, it is added that the transaction will be for “less than 100 million dollars” and will include among others, the Bettmann Collection, Sygma, Veer for a total of more than 50 million images. If the sale figure is correct, that would indicate that Corbis sold its whole collection for less than it cost them to built it via multiple acquisitions, thus sold it at lost.

Not included is Splash. It is believed that the management of Corbis will keep the celebrity content to feed its BEN initiative.

While VCG has a strong presence in China, it has none in the rest of the world. Getty Images just announced that it will represent the Corbis content exclusively, outside of China. This is a brilliant move by Getty since they will suddenly enhance their offering with 50 million + photos, fully edited and captioned, without having to spend a penny. Furthermore, it  allows them to shut the door to Shutterstock (Shutterstock is said to have issued a “migration kit” for those who would wish to leave the now ex-Corbis.) and Adobe Stock, their most aggressive competition. Although,

After France and the USA, will China become the new center of the stock photography world ? There are still a lot of unknowns and the months ahead will offer a clearer picture of this massive transaction. One thing is for sure, it is the end of an era for the stock photo industry.

Photo by Daquella manera

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32 Thoughts on “Corbis Images sold to China Visual Group

  1. Corbis Images sold to China Visual Group / Thoughts of a Bohemian via @melchp

  2. Zo dan! Visual China Group koopt Corbis images en Getty gaat de distributie doen…

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