Date
26 March 2017
Wang Jianlin speaks during a news conference in Beijing. Wang is headed for a record year of mergers and acquisitions. Photo: Reuters
Wang Jianlin speaks during a news conference in Beijing. Wang is headed for a record year of mergers and acquisitions. Photo: Reuters

Wanda chief on track to challenge Disney empire

Chinese billionaire Wang Jianlin is headed for a record year of mergers and acquisitions, putting him on track to challenge challenge the Walt Disney Co. entertainment empire by the end of the decade.

On Monday, Wang’s AMC Entertainment Holdings Inc. raised its offer for Carmike Cinemas Inc., pushing the total amount of purchases completed or announced by his companies above US$16 billion this year, Bloomberg reports.

That’s more than triple Wang’s M&A total in 2015, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Most of the investments are going toward buying entertainment assets to transform Wang’s flagship Dalian Wanda Group Co. into a juggernaut with US$200 billion in market capitalization and US$100 billion of annual sales by the end of the decade.

The idea is that the push to shift China into a consumption-driven economy, coupled with a growing middle class, will be a boon for the leisure industry.

Wang, who predicted in January that he would pursue five “substantial” acquisitions — three of them overseas — in 2016, has been among the most prolific deal makers in what has been a blockbuster year for mergers and acquisitions in China.

Chinese companies have completed or announced an unprecedented US$150 billion of overseas purchases in 2016, including China National Chemical Corp.’s record US$43 billion bid for Syngenta AG.

Wang bought Hollywood producer Legendary Entertainment for US$3.5 billion and is now seeking to inject it and other film-related businesses into his Shenzhen-listed Wanda Cinema Line Co. as part of a US$5.7 billion reorganization.

AMC also agreed to buy Odeon & UCI Cinemas Group for US$1.2 billion, expanding in Europe and widening Wanda’s lead as the world’s largest operator of movie theaters.

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