Major Chinese media group Dalian Wanda has said one of its film units, Wanda Pictures, has raised $2.4 billion in a share offer, according to VP Liu Zhaohui, who was speaking at a press briefing. No further details of the origin of the investment were disclosed. Last month, it was leaked that the company was seeking $1.5 billion of outside investment in specifically Wanda Pictures ahead of a long-rumoured IPO, along with either a backdoor stock listing or an asset injection into another listed Dalian Wanda Group.
The capital raise comes as the Chinese media giant is consolidating its different film operations to come under its exhibition unit Wanda Cinema Line, which is listed on the Shenzhen exchange. Among the units being brought into the fold will be Legendary Entertainment, which Wanda acquired in January for $3.5 billion. Wanda will be moving its Wanda Pictures subsidiary, including Legendary, into its listed cinema exhibition arm. Qingdao Wanda Pictures — Wanda’s film services unit which is busy building a studio facility in the Eastern Chinese port city of Qingdao — will also be merged into Wanda Cinema Line.
Wanda Cinema Line’s stocks were temporarily suspended from trading in February pending the announcement of an acquisition. It is believed that specific acquisition will be Wanda Pictures, although initial speculation has led some in the trades to marry up Wanda Group’s billionaire founder Wang Jianlin with Paramount. Earlier this year, it was also revealed that Wanda would be investing $3.3B by 2024 in EuropaCity, a mega-project near Paris’ Charles de Gaulle airport that will boast a theme park, attractions, cultural exhibitions, retail shops, outdoor sports venues and restaurants over about 200 acres. It’s Wanda’s biggest-ever single project in Europe, which the company said will create about 14,000 jobs.
The newly consolidated Wanda film units now appear primed to be a dominant player in China’s fast-growing film business.