Wanda Group

Wang Jianlin

Wang Jianlin’s AMC pays US$930 million for Nordic Cinema

Latest purchase adds 118 cinemas across six Nordic countries to AMC’s portfolio, giving the chain 12 per cent of global market share

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 24 January, 2017, 1:18pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 24 January, 2017, 11:01pm

Chinese property and film mogul Wang Jianlin, fresh from his Davos speech urging the removal of barriers against China’s Hollywood investments, has added the biggest cinema chain in the Nordic and Baltic regions to his empire of worldwide movie theatres.

AMC Entertainment Holdings, the US theatre chain under Wang’s Dalian Wanda Group, has announced a US$930 million purchase of Stockholm-based Nordic Cinema Group, according to a statement.

The purchase gives AMC control of 664 screens in 118 cinemas in Sweden, Finland, Norway, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, according to the Chinese company’s statement.

“This will further strengthen AMC’s position as the world’s largest single cinema chain,” it said.

Even before buying Nordic Cinema, Wanda already controlled an estimated 12 per cent of the world’s cinema screens. Wang’s aim is to eventually control 20 per cent of the world’s cinema screens by 2020, with 10 billion yuan (US$1.46 billion) in annual net profit, Wang said during his company’s annual meeting this month.

The purchase from private equity firm Bridgepoint and Swedish media group Bonnier Holdings gives AMC a total of 11,000 screens in 1,000 cinemas in 15 North American and European countries, Wanda said. AMC paid US$1.1 billion for Carmike Cinemas, and recently bought Europe’s largest cinema chain Odeon & IUCI Cinemas Group for £921 million.

Wanda’s Shenzhen-listed unit, Wanda Cinema Line, separately owns more than 400 cinemas in China, as well as Australia’s second-largest operator Hoyts Group.

Besides owning the distribution network for showing movies, Wanda has also made investments in Hollywood studios that produce movies. The Chinese company paid US$3.5 billion last year for Legendary Entertainment, the producer of Jurassic World.

Wanda’s shopping spree in the US has raised concerns in Congress over its growing influence in Hollywood and on American culture. Eighteen members urged the government to review Chinese investments in American entertainment, internet and media assets, including Wang’s dealmaking.

During a panel discussion at the annual World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, last week, Wang reiterated his interest in buying a top-tier Hollywood studio.

He warned if US President Donald Trump’s government takes tougher measures against Chinese investments in the US entertainment industry, it will hurt both parties.

“If the US blocks Chinese capital, China will retaliate with the same measures. It will do no good to anyone,” Wang said.