Eldridge Industries, which owns Dick Clark Productions, confirmed this morning it has “terminated its agreement” made in November to sell the TV production company to China’s Wanda Group for $1 billion.
Former Guggenheim Partners president Todd Boehly’s Eldridge says Wanda “failed to honor its contractual obligations.” As a result, it also filed a motion in Delaware’s Chancery Court to “compel release of the balance of escrowed funds to which it is contractually entitled given Wanda’s failure to consummate the sale.”
The escrowed amount, which represents a potential break-up fee, is said to be $25 million. That’s on top of a $25 million payment that Wanda made to Eldridge in January in return for its agreement to extend the closing date.
The deal for the production company behind the Golden Globes, the Billboard Music Awards, the American Music Awards, Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve With Ryan Seacrest and other events was known to be on the rocks.
The price tag apparently began to appear to be too high as Wanda faces possible financial issues stemming in part from other big-ticket Hollywood investments, most notably, the $3.5 billion bid for Legendary Entertainment.
A deal also might have put Wanda in an uncomfortable position with Chinese officials who want to limit capital flight, as well as with U.S. lawmakers who warn that China is becoming too influential in Hollywood.
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The real estate giant delayed the Dick Clark Productions deal in February, due in part to concerns in Beijing that the country’s capital reserves will become depleted if companies use their cash to buy overseas properties as the value of the yuan declines vs. the U.S. dollar.
Wanda also has grappled with a slowdown in its main business — selling real estate and commercial centers in China — as the country’s economy has lost steam. It grew 6.7% last year, the lowest rate in more than 25 years.
Wanda reported in January that its revenues dropped 14% in 2016. That was Wanda’s first decline in more than a decade and exceeded its forecast for a 12% drop.
The company is heavily leveraged and has a more than $2 billion note coming due tied to the Legendary purchase.
Wanda’s ambitious entertainment acquisition effort also included deals by AMC Entertainment — which it controls — that made it the world’s biggest exhibition chain. It paid $1.1 billion for Carmike Cinemas and $1.2 billion for UK’s Odeon & UCI Cinemas. In January, it agreed to pay $929 million for Nordic Cinema Group.
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