China’s Wanda becomes biggest US cinema company with AMC buy


US buyout giants Carlyle and Apollo Global are among a group of private equity firms exiting their stakes in the world’s largest IMAX cinema operator to China’s Dalian Wanda Group for $2.6bn.

The move for AMC makes Wanda the largest movie theatre company in the US by overtaking the revenues of Tennessee’s Regal Entertainment Group.

Bain Capital, CCMP Capital Advisors and Spectrum Equity Investors also exited their stakes, leaving the business a wholly-owned subsidiary of Wanda.

AMC operates 346 multiplex theatres across North America with more than 5,000 screens, almost half of which are 3D and 128 IMAX.

Wanda already controls 86 cinemas with 730 screens and also stages large-scale lives shows, produces and distributes films and runs entertainment chains.

AMC was taken private by Apollo and JP Morgan Partners for about $2bn in 2004, comprising $1.67bn in equity and the assumption of $750m of debt.

The company filed for a $789m IPO two years later but scrapped the plans in 2007 amid the crash of the financial markets.

It has since filed for a $450m IPO in July 2010.

Gerry Lopez, Chief Executive Officer and President of AMC, said, “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.

“Wanda and AMC are both dedicated to providing our customers with a premier entertainment experience and state-of-the-art amenities and share corporate cultures focused on strategic growth and innovation.

“With Wanda as its partner, AMC will continue to seek out new ways to expand and invest in the movie-going experience.”

Wang Jianlin, Chairman and President of Wanda, said, “This acquisition will help make Wanda a truly global cinema owner, with theatres and technology that enhance the movie-going experience for audiences in the world’s two largest movie markets.

“Wanda has a deep commitment to investing in the entertainment business and is already the largest in this sector in China, with more than US$1.6 billion invested in cultural and entertainment activities since 2005.

“We share with AMC a passion for the growth of the worldwide movie industry. We look forward to partnering with AMC’s management team and employees to build on the many strengths of the company.”

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