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Wang Jianlin, the Chairman and President of the Wanda Group. Photo: Courtesy of the Wanda Group
The Dalian Wanda Group Monday signed a merger agreement in Beijing with American cinema group AMC, creating the world's largest cinema owner.
The transaction is worth around 2.6 billion dollars, with Wanda promising an additional 500 million dollars in further capital. This means that Wanda will pay a total of 3.1 billion dollars.
Statistics from Wanda show their ticket sales account for around 15% of China's total box office takings. Wanda's 86 theaters and 730 screens nationwide have already made it Asia's largest cinema group. AMC ranks as world's second largest theater chain with 346 theaters and 5,034 screens in North America. This merger means that 10 percent of the world's theater market is integrated and represents the largest investment by Chinese companies in the American culture industries so far.
Wang Jianlin, Chairman and President of Wanda said Wanda has always had high ambitions in the movie industry both domestically and internationally. "Wanda has a deep commitment to investing in cultural and creative industries. We are looking forward to partnering with AMC to expand our business in America," said Wang.
Gerry Lopez, CEO and President of AMC said that the merger came at the right time. "As the film and exhibition business continues its global expansion, the time has never been more opportune to welcome the enthusiastic support of our new owners," he said.
Wang said the merger project includes purchases of AMC's shares and Wanda would also take on all of AMC's debts. In addition to this, he said that AMC's management team would remain in place and there would be no impact on AMC's employees. "AMC is a well known brand with 92 years history in America, we do respect the brand and will try our best to preserve it as is," said Wang.
Wang admitted that the merger provides a pipeline for Chinese films to enter the American market, but he also was careful to point out that the quality of the Chinese films is ultimately the key.
"A good film speaks itself. The introduction and promotion of Chinese films will be decided by AMC, Wanda will not interfere," said Wang.
According to Wang, this merger deal is part Wanda's global cultural industry plan. "Apart from AMC, Wanda is also seeking mergers with other big film companies in Europe and America. Wanda aims to occupy 20 percent of world's cinema market by 2020," said Wang.
By Zhang Zihan
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