Trading in Wanda Film Holding Co was halted on the Shenzhen Stock Exchange last July with plans afoot “to acquire film-related assets,” the company said at the time. Now, Wanda is getting in gear. On Monday, Wanda Film, which is part of Wang Jianlin’s recently embattled Dalian Wanda Group and holds the conglomerate’s Chinese exhibition business, said it intends to purchase 96.83% of Wanda Media (alternately referred to as Wanda Television Media) which is the film production and distribution unit. The transaction price was listed at RMB 11.62B ($1.77B).
In a Chinese regulatory filing, Wanda Film says its core business will be expanded to investment, production and distribution of movies and TV dramas, as well as the distribution and operation of online games and video IP and interactive platforms. The unit already includes Wanda’s 516 directly-operated cinemas with nearly 4,600 screens.
The Wanda-owned Legendary and AMC Entertainment are not part of the current proposal.
The aim of the deal is to consolidate a leading position in the domestic exhibition market and enhance competitiveness. The film assets that are being consolidated are mostly comprised of domestic movies, TV shows and games. Wanda had a huge hit this year with Detective Chinatown 2 and a more modest one with Battle Of Memories last year. Wanda Pictures and/or related companies have also had stakes in some Hollywood titles, although it us unclear if those investments will be increased.
In February this year, Wanda sold a 12.77% stake in the film unit for RMB 7.8B ($1.24B) to Hangzhou Zhenxi Investment Management Co, an affiliate of Jack Ma’s Alibaba Group, and the state-owned Cultural Investment Holdings Co. The purpose of that deal, Wanda said at the time, was “to bring in shareholders with strategic value.”
In March of 2016, Wanda said it planned to merge Legendary into its Wanda Cinema Line (now Wanda Film Holding). 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.