BEIJING, Jan 12, 2016:

China’s property-to-entertainment conglomerate Dalian Wanda Group said today it has agreed to buy a controlling stake in Hollywood movie studio Legendary Entertainment in a deal worth about US$3.5 billion (RM15.3 billion).

Wanda chairman Wang Jianlin, China’s richest man, said at a news conference in Beijing the Chinese firm is acquiring Legendary Entertainment for both intellectual property reasons and the studio’s movies.

A person familiar with the matter had revealed earlier this month a deal had been agreed.

Wanda said it will buy an unspecified majority stake in Legendary. As part of the transaction, Legendary’s founder and chief executive officer Thomas Tull will continue to head up the movie maker.

Founded in 2000, Legendary has made hits such as The Dark Knight and Man of Steel, as well as The Hangover film franchise.

Legendary generally provides half the financing for movies whose budgets can run up to US$200 million or more. It also has an agreement with China Film Co, the largest and most influential film company in China, to co-produce movies.

Wanda is already the world’s biggest movie theatre operator, controlling AMC Entertainment Holdings Inc, North America’s second-largest cinema chain, and Australian movie theatre company Hoyt’s Group.

Wanda Cinema Line Corp, the group’s domestically listed firm, is the biggest theatre operator in China.

Wang Jianlin said he plans to package Legendary, producer of hits like Jurassic World, with his company’s existing movie production assets in China and sell shares in the merged operation in an initial public offering.

The deal – what Wanda said was its “largest culture acquisition overseas” – comes as Wang accelerates a drive to diversify a giant with 2015 revenue of US$44 billion away from its core, but slowing domestic property operations.

With deals to buy into everything from financial services to Spanish soccer club Atletico Madrid, Wanda today said revenue rose 19% last year.


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