China’s Wanda Group has finalized a deal to buy Dick Clark Productions, marking its entry into TV production. Wanda has acquired a 100% stake in the company that produces the Golden Globes, the Billboard Music Awards, the American Music Awards, Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve With Ryan Seacrest and other special events for approximately $1 billion, the Chinese conglom announced on Thursday. Negotiations had grown in intensity over the past couple of months between Wanda and DCP — controlled by former Guggenheim Partners president Todd Boehly’s Eldridge Industries — after a year’s worth of talks.
After the acquisition is completed, DCP’s management “will remain in its entirety”, Wanda said in the announcement, noting that the company has signed a long-term operation target agreement with the top DCP executives. No names are mentioned but DCP’s top leadership includes CEO Allen Shapiro and president Michael Mahan.
The bidding for DCP was competitive, sources said, driven by the amount of IP that the company controls. I hear there were multiple Chinese bidders as well as multiple American companies pursuing, including Comcast and Time Warner. I hear Comcast was particularly interested as its network NBC airs the Golden Globes and also has been looking to launch a music awards franchise, making the Billboard Awards particularly attractive, but the AMAs and Rockin’ Eve are all under long-term deals at ABC, which complicated things.
I hear that Wanda’s offer was actually not the highest, and there was at least one bid by a Chinese company that came in higher but DCP went with Wanda in large part due to the strong relationship between the chairmen of the two companies, Peter Guber and Wang Jianlin.
Guggenheim paid $380 million for DCP when it bought the company in 2012 from RedZone Capital Management. Boehly bought DCP last year when he stepped down as Guggenheim’s president.
Wanda has been active in injecting itself full-boar into Hollywood, from acquiring the likes of AMC Entertainment and Legendary Entertainment to its major co-financing and marketing deal with Sony focused on its tentpoles. It also established a $750M development fund to attract Hollywood productions to China’s Qingdao Movie Metropolis complex.
Wanda CEO Wang Jianlin has indicated he is actively looking for more Hollywood investments, recently saying he has been “waiting for the opportunity” to buy a major Hollywood studio. The Chinese power seemed to have the inside track to buy a 49% stake in Paramount this year when it was being shopped by former Viacom CEO Philippe Dauman, but Viacom’s board scrapped that deal.
The acquisition of DCP marks Wanda’s first step into television content. “Obtaining top television production rights brings about complementary and coordinated development for Wanda’s current focuses on the film, tourism, and sports industries,” the company said.
Wang promised last year that by 2020 Wanda will be a public company worth more than $200 billion, with annual revenues of at least $100 billion and net profits of $10 billion or more.
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