Dalian Wanda clinches deal for Legendary Entertainment
Company controlled by mainland China’s richest man in deal said to value US studio at between US$3 billion and US$4 billion
Chinese property and investment firm Dalian Wanda Group has agreed to acquire a majority stake in Legendary Entertainment, valuing the US movie studio company at between US$3 billion and US$4 billion, a source said.
The move represents Wanda’s latest bid to expand overseas and become a major player in the US entertainment industry following its acquisition of AMC Entertainment, the second-largest movie theatre chain in North America, for US$2.6 billion in 2012.
Wanda, controlled by mainland China’s richest man, Wang Jianlin, will own a little more than half of Legendary Entertainment, with Legendary founder and chief executive Thomas Tull and the rest of its management owning the remainder, the source said on Monday.
Other investors in Legendary, including Japan’s telecommunication conglomerate SoftBank and investment firm Waddell & Reed, had agreed to sell their stakes in the company, the source added.
An agreement had been signed and could be announced as early as next week, the source said.
Wanda, Legendary, SoftBank and Waddell & Reed did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Founded in 2000, Legendary has produced hits such as The Dark Knight, Jurassic World, Man of Steel, and the 2014 remake of Godzilla, as well as The Hangover film franchise.
Legendary generally provides half the financing for movies whose budgets can run up to US$200 million or more. It also has an agreement with China Film, the largest and most influential film company in China, to co-produce movies.
Wanda is the leading shareholder of China’s biggest theatre chain, Wanda Cinema Line. Wanda may also list its film production and distribution unit by the end of 2016, Wang was quoted as saying in an interview with Caixin Weekly financial magazine in November.