AMC Entertainment announced it has closed a $600 million strategic investment from Silver Lake, a tech-oriented investment firm, and will use part of the proceeds to buy back Class B common shares owned by the Dalian Wanda Group.
The deal will give Silver Lake, which has stakes in companies including Alibaba, Tesla and Endeavor, a seat on the board of the top exhibitor. AMC will also add a new independent director “with significant technology experience and knowledge, with support from Silver Lake,” the announcement said.
The transaction signals a retreat from the U.S. movie theater business for the Chinese conglomerate Wanda, which took control of AMC in 2012 in a $2.6 billion deal. In June at CineEurope, AMC boss Adam Aron sought to quell rumors of a Wanda pullback, insisting that they had “not sold a single share in eight years,” though he conceded, “things are status quo until they are not.”
Under the deal, senior unsecured convertible notes were issued today. They come due in 2024 and bear interest at 2.95%.
Some of the proceeds from the Convertible Notes has been used to repurchase about 24 million Class B Common shares in AMC from, Dalian Wanda Group. That represents nearly 32% of the Class B common shares held by Wanda, at a price of $17.50 per share. Wanda still owns almost 52 million Class B Common shares.
“We are very excited to welcome a new highly sophisticated investor with a great track record of success,” said Adam Aron, CEO and president of AMC. “Silver Lake believes in the inherent value of AMC now, and in the likelihood of AMC’s success going forward resulting from our global leadership position and our proven growth strategies.”
As to Wanda’s status, Aron added, “We are also truly pleased that Wanda is continuing with its longstanding commitment to AMC. Wanda’s majority ownership began in 2012, and they are expected to remain a sizable and supportive shareholder for AMC into the future. Wanda has been a terrific shareholder, and I have the highest respect and affection for the Wanda executives with whom we regularly interact.”
Lee Wittlinger, a Silver Lake Managing Director who will join the AMC Board of Directors, saluted AMC’s “category-leading investment in enhanced customer experience, geographic expansion, as well as innovation around the customer engagement model, including the highly successful recent launch of the AMC Stubs A-List program.”
Silver Lake has a two-year right of first refusal on certain future transfers of AMC shares by Wanda, which the companies called a reflection of Silver Lake’s confidence in AMC.