By Mandela Wells
The Chinese entertainment giant Wanda Group is currently in final negotiations to buy a majority stake in Legendary Entertainment. The Hollywood studio has built a substantial, multi-genre content company which distributes fantasy and gamer franchises.
The Chinese company is looking buy out the stake of two other investors in a deal that values the company between $3 billion and $4 billion.
The deal would give the Chinese conglomerate, (that also owns Wanda Cinemas), AMC Entertainment and massive real estate holdings. Most importantly they would have the the No. 2 theater chain in North America. The deal would leave Legendary founder and CEO Thomas Tull in charge of the company and with a substantial minority ownership interest, says one source.
The Chinese conglomerate’s owner, Wang Jianlin, is that nation’s wealthiest man and is said to be intent on spreading his influence across industries ranging from sports, to hospitality, to theme parks and entertainment.
. One of its subsidiaries, Wanda Cinema Line, is listed on the Chinese stock market and recently had a market capitalization of $20.3 billion, nine times larger than that of AMC. The company recently announced plans to give stock market listings to two of its movie subsidiaries in the areas of production and distribution. This makes it very likely that Wanda can pull off this deal
Legendary previously has had multiple talks with Chinese companies. The Hong Kong-based exhibition chain Golden Harvest, acquired a small minority stake (3.33%) from the company in 2010 for $25 million. It sold that stake in 2011 for $30 million. Later that same year, Legendary was in advanced talks with Hong Kong construction firm PY Engineering to be the principal Chinese financier of the Legendary East Studio out there. Although the deal fell through, Legendary East is in post production on its first film, the $150 million “The Great Wall,” which will star Matt Damon and will be directed by Zhang Yimou.
Time will tell if this deal will come to fruition