Wang Jianlin’s Dalian Wanda Group is on the move again. After the Chinese real estate and entertainment conglomerate said it was selling off $9.3B in hotel and theme park assets to Sunac China, it has also revealed plans for its Wanda Film division to acquire Wanda Media via a share issue.
Trading in Wanda Film Holding Co, the division that was re-branded from Wanda Cinema Line earlier this year, was halted on the Shenzhen Stock Exchange this week due to “plans to acquire film-related assets,” the company said in a regulatory filing.
Now it’s been clarified that Wanda Film is planning the purchase of 100% of Wanda Television Media Co. It did not specify financial details and further information is to be revealed on August 3. However, Legendary Entertainment is believed not to be included in the mix that’s being listed.
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In March of 2016, Wanda said it planned to merge Legendary into its Wanda Cinema Line. It had acquired the producer in January that year for $3.5B. But the $5.6B deal to fold it into the publicly traded division never went through. At the time, the company cited changes in market conditions and interests of minority shareholders. Basically, the pricey Legendary needed to prove itself as an independent entity first.
It had a major hit with Warcraft in China last year. This year has seen mixed fortunes with the well-received Kong: Skull Island grossing over $566M worldwide, and the less-extolled The Great Wall taking $332M. Key executives Thomas Tull and Peter Loehr also exited.
This week’s moves come as Wanda is heavily indebted, a situation not unfamiliar in the Middle Kingdom these days as companies have set a breakneck pace of aggressive buying sprees.
USC China specialist Stanley Rosen tells Deadline, “Wang has long relied, to an important extent, on other people’s money, and with the Chinese government — and foreign and Chinese economists — more and more concerned about China’s debt levels being unsustainable, this decision brings Wang back in line with current government thinking, as well as making a lot of sense for his company’s future development.”
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