China's Wanda Buys Legendary Entertainment for $3.5 Billion

Manila Bulletin, January 12, 2016 | Go to article overview

China's Wanda Buys Legendary Entertainment for $3.5 Billion


BEIJING -- Wanda Group announced Tuesday it is buying Hollywood's Legendary Entertainment, the maker of films such as "Batman," for $3.5 billion in the first Chinese acquisition of a major U.S. film company.

Wanda, whose chairman, Wang Jianlin, is one of China's richest businesspeople, has expanded rapidly into the film industry. It bought the U.S. cinema chain AMC in 2012 and is developing an $8 billion studio complex in eastern China.

New but cash-rich Chinese companies are on a buying spree abroad in industries from finance to yacht building for assets that can speed their development at home and help them expand in global markets.

With its latest acquisition, Wanda's film businesses will include a full range of production, distribution and exhibition, Wang said in a statement. The company, headquartered in the northeastern port city of Dalian, also has interests in hotels, retailing and real estate.

Legendary's productions include the "Batman" trilogy, "Inception" and "The Hangover." The company says its movies have grossed more than $12 billion worldwide.

"Wanda will help Legendary increase its market opportunities, especially in the fast-growing China market," said Wang.

Wanda's latest purchase is the fourth-largest Chinese investment in the United States, according to Dealogic, a financial information provider. It ranks behind WH Group Ltd.'s $7 billion acquisition of pork packer Smithfield Foods in 2013, the Chinese sovereign wealth fund's 2007 purchase of a 9.9 percent stake in Morgan Stanley for $5.6 billion and Unisplendour Corp.'s offer of $3.7 billion this year for 15 percent of Western Digital Corp.

Global film, music and television companies see China and its increasingly prosperous population of 1.3 billion potential viewers as one of their most promising markets. Even as economic growth slows, China's consumer spending is expanding faster than that of the United States and other Western markets.

Ticket sales in China, already one of the world's biggest movie markets, rose nearly 50 percent last year to 44 billion yuan ($6.8 billion), according to Nomura. …

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