Alibaba leads $1.24 bil. investment in China's Wanda Film

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Alibaba Group and state-controlled company CIH have agreed to acquire a 13 percent stake in Dalian Wanda Group's Wanda Film unit for $1.24 billion, or RMB 7.8 billion. 

 

The deal, reported by Reuters, will leave Wanda with a 48.1 percent minority stake in Wanda Film, which includes its exhibition business and most of its film and production operations. Alibaba will buy a slightly larger stake than CIH, which is controlled by the Beijing city authorities.

 

It is the latest deal by billionaire Wang Jianlin’s real estate and entertainment conglomerate to raise money. Last week, it put up for sale its remaining two overseas real estate projects, including a much-hyped $1.2 billion luxury condo and hotel complex in Beverly Hills.

 

The recent slew of sales by Wanda are expected to lessen its financial strain and help it address upcoming loan repayment deadlines. When Beijing regulators began blocking private Chinese companies from moving money offshore last year, international credit-rating firms downgraded Wanda's flagship commercial-property subsidiary to junk status, triggering higher interest payments on its offshore debt.

 

In a company address last month, Wang pledged that Wanda wouldn't experience any defaults and promised to reduce the company's debt burden "through all available means," including the sale of more non-core assets. 

 

There have also been industry murmurs that Wanda is open to offloading its majority stake in AMC Entertainment, North America's largest movie theatre chain. The company has simultaneously been exploring listing some of AMC's international assets, such as its European movie theatre circuits Odeon & UCI and Nordic Cinema Group. Legendary Entertainment, meanwhile—Wanda's largest overseas acquisition to date, picked up for $3.5 billion in 2016—has been hiring new senior leadership and is not thought to be for sale.—The Hollywood Reporter