Vizio’s $2B Sale To LeEco Collapses Without Chinese Government Approval

Vizio; LeEco

Electronics manufacturer Vizio’s $2 billion sale to China’s LeEco Global Group just wasn’t to be. The companies ended months of questions about the deal they reached in July — after two years of negotiations —  by announcing today that they’ve called it off due to “regulatory headwinds.”

In its place they unveiled an agreement to “explore opportunities to incorporate the Le app and content within the Vizio connected CE platform, and engage in a collaborative partnership to leverage LeEco’s EUI (Ecosystem User Interface) platform, along with the brand’s exclusive content and distribution channels, to bring Vizio products to the China market.”

LeEco (known as Letv until January 2016) was China’s first publicly traded streaming video company — and has aggressively made deals to expand into other businesses including content, consumer electronics, and auto production. The acquisition of Vizio, a major TV manufacturer based in southern California, was designed to help its drive into the U.S. ahead of a hoped-for U.S. stock listing in 2019.

The Vizio deal was supposed to close in late 2016.

But LeEco bit off more than it could chew. Late last year Chairman Jia Yueting acknowledged that he needed more cash. Shares in parent company Leshi Internet Information, traded in Beijing, are down nearly 46% over the last 12 months.

Then, in February, Vizio agreed to pay $2.2 million in a settlement with the FTC which charged that the company failed to make clear to customers that it was collecting and selling second-by-second information about the shows they watched.

Ultimately the LeEco was unable to win approval from Chinese regulators, who have been cracking down on capital flight from the country. The government’s policy contributed to the break up of Wanda Group’s deal to buy Dick Clark Productions and  Huahua Media and Shanghai Film Group’s planned investment in Paramount’s film slate.

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