The Ghouls
Courtesy of Wanda Pictures

China’s Dalian Wanda is seeking up to $1.5 billion for its film unit, Wanda Pictures, according to a new report.

The Wall Street Journal, citing financial documents, says Wanda Pictures is valued at $5.35 billion (RMB35 billion) as it preps for an initial public offering.

Last month, Wanda Pictures agreed to pay up to $3.5 billion for Legendary Entertainment, producer of such films as “The Dark Knight Rises” and “Pacific Rim.”

Wanda Pictures also includes its own Chinese production operations–they include box office hits “Mojin The Lost Legend” (previously known as “The Ghouls”) and “Goodbye Mister Loser.” Its gross revenues are reported as $1.05 billion (RMB6.7 billion).

Wanda Group chairman Wang Jianlin has previously stated that he was considering flotations for one or both of the production or distribution companies. He has not indicated on what exchange the IPO would take place, though a mainland Chinese market or the Hong Kong Stock Exchange are the most likely. (Exhibition chain, Wanda Cinema Line is listed in China, Wanda Commercial Properties in Hong Kong.)

Wanda Group also owns U.S. movie theater chain AMC Entertainment.

The latest move appears to show Wanda Pictures being given either a full IPO, or a backdoor listing through use of a listed shell company, or its injection into another company controlled by Wanda. The documents seen by the WSJ show that if Wanda Pictures does not achieve a listing within a year that the investors will receive an offer from Wanda Culture instead and that they will be given a 15% annual return.

Wanda Pictures is currently 20% owned by Wang personally, with Wanda Culture already holding 55% and Wanda group the remaining 25%.

It is not clear whether the acquisition of Legendary has yet been completed. Last month it received approval for the deal from U.S. trade authorities, but Chinese regulatory approvals are also required. The cash injection and later flotation of Wanda Pictures would represent a way for Wanda to reduce the cost of the deal.

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