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Dalian Wanda in talks to buy Lions Gate, MGM

Published: 21 Dec 2014 21:45:49 PST

Dalian Wanda in talks to buy Lions Gate, MGM
A photo of Wanda Group Chairman Wang Jianlin held talks with Lions Gate Entertainment Chairman Mark Rachesky in Beijing is shown on the firm's official website on Oct 8, 2014. [Photo/wanda-group.com]

Dalian Wanda Group Co, which controls the second-biggest US cinema chain, AMC Entertainment, Inc, is in talks to acquire a stake in film studio Lions Gate Entertainment Corp, said Bloomberg News, citing the firm's chairman Wang Jianlin.

According to the report, the firm is interested in buying control of Lions Gate, the $4.7 billion studio behind the "Hunger Games" films, although its owners are said to be only willing to sell a minority stake.

"Talks are at an early stage and may not lead to a deal," said Wang.

According to Wang, the firm has also held discussions about investing in Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Inc, the independent producer of James Bond films.

"Many people come knocking at my door, but Wanda is only interested in the big players and we want control," Wang said. "China's movie industry is booming at unprecedented speed. Buying a well-known US company will help our distribution overseas."

According to the report, Wang also said he wants to acquire large theater networks in Europe as part of his ambition to control 20 percent of the global cinema market by 2020.

"We are shifting our group's focus toward culture, entertainment and e-commerce," Wang said. "China's movie industry is growing a lot faster than that of the US."

Ahead of the official opening times of US exchanges, Lions Gate shares rose 5.3 percent to $35.68.

In August this year, Dalian Wanda said it plans to invest $1.2 billion to develop a plot of land in Beverly Hills, California, and will set up an office there to do deals in Hollywood.

Later, on Oct 8, according to a post on the company's official website, Wang Jianlin met with Lions Gate chairman Mark Rachesky in Beijing.

Officials at Lions Gate and MGM didn't immediately return calls outside of regular business hours seeking comment, said Bloomberg News.

According to the report, Fosun, the Shanghai-based company that invested $200 million in Jeff Robinov's Studio 8 in June, has also held talks to invest in Lions Gate, people with knowledge of the matter said last month.

On Oct 27, Alibaba's chairman Jack Ma confirmed that he and a team of his executives visited with the heads of a number of entertainment studios in Hollywood in that month to acquire distribution rights for their content and possible stakes in their studios, said a previous report by Bloomberg News. 

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Factbox: Wanda Group

Founded in 1988, Dalian Wanda Group operates in four major industries commercial property, hotel development and management, culture and tourism, as well as department stores.

The company's assets totaled 380 billion yuan ($62.8 billion) and net profits exceeded 12.5 billion yuan in 2013, according to its website.

Apart from its recent pursuit to go public with its cinema line and commercial property business, Wanda Group is among the few conglomerates in China that has no listing entity.

Main businesses:

Commercial Properties - Dalian Wanda Group currently operates 98 shopping plazas, with a total leasable area of 17.04 million square meters, ranking second in the world, according to the company's website. Another 27 malls are under construction in China.

Luxury Hotels - Wanda has opened 60 five-star and super five-star hotels across China. Another 10 are currently under construction.

Culture and Tourism - Wanda is among the largest cinema operators, with 6,200 movie screens accounting for 10 percent of the global box office, said the company's website, after acquiring AMC Entertainment, the world's second-largest theater chain in 2012. The group owns 149 cinemas in China and 380 across the US, Canada, Japan and other countries. Its main business also covers film production, performing arts, film entertainment, theme parks and art investment.

Department Stores - Wanda operates 84 department stores in China's major cities, such as Beijing, Shanghai, Nanjing, Chengdu, Shenyang and Wuhan. The company currently plans to expand into 120 by 2015.

Wang Jianlin:

Wang Jianlin served in the army for 16 years before becoming the chairman of Dalian Wanda Group in 1989.

The 60-year-old has a personal wealth of 80.78 billion yuan, and was ranked the fourth richest Chinese by Forbes magazine in October.

The company's recent plan to go public with its commercial properties and entertainment businesses are expected to make Wang surpass Jack Ma Yun, executive chairman of Alibaba Group, and return to the top of the list.

Recent moves:

Dec 2 – Dalian Wanda Commercial Properties Co, a real estate development arm of the group, won approval from Hong Kong Stock Exchange for its initial public offering. The company plans to raise about $4 billion and start trading by the end of the month, according to Bloomberg.

Dec 1 – Dalian Wanda Group is in talks to acquire a stake in Lions Gate Entertainment Corp, a $4.7 billion studio behind “The Hunger Games” films, Bloomberg reported.

Nov 28 – Wanda Cinema Line Co Ltd, a theater arm controlled by the group, received listing approval from Chinese regulatory. It expects to raise up to 2 billion yuan in the IPO.

Nov 24 – Dalian Wanda Group announced its plan to expand its luxury hotel business and establish over 150 premium hotels across the globe by the end of 2018.

Aug 29 – Wang Jianlin announced a 5 billion yuan joint investment in e-commerce with Internet magnates Pony Ma Huateng of Tencent and Robin Li Yanhong of Baidu. Under the agreement, Dalian Wanda Group will control 70 percent of the shares in the new joint venture.

Aug 8 – Wanda said it plans to invest $1.2 billion to develop a plot of land in Beverly Hills, California, and will set up a local office to do deals in Hollywood, according to Bloomberg.

 

Posted on 01-Dec-2014

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