China’s Wanda Close to Another Deal (Report)

Wanda Group Logo
Courtesy of Dalian Wanda

China’s giant Dalian Wanda group may be close to another mega deal, according to its chairman Wang Jianlin.

Wang was speaking in the U.K. at an address to Oxford University on Tuesday.

According to Bloomberg, he said that the deal he is poised to announce is not in the U.K., though he is also planning a “comprehensive project” in Britain to be announced later.

Wanda is no stranger to acquisitions in the entertainment space. In 2012 it announced its international entertainment expansion with the acquisition of North American cinema chain AMC. Only last month it announced the $3.5 billion purchase of Legendary Entertainment.

And since the beginning of this week, since Viacom announced that it is examining options for Paramount Pictures, speculation has been running rife that a Chinese firm is finally on the brink of taking over a Hollywood studio.

At Wanda’s annual corporate gathering, held in January shortly after the Legendary deal confirmation, Wang said that he planned five major acquisitions in 2016, of which three would be outside China.

Contacted by Variety, both Wanda and Alibaba have declined comment.

Shares in Wanda Cinema Line, the market-leading multiplex chain that is listed on the Shenzhen stock exchange, were suspended Wednesday at the company’s request, pending an acquisition announcement.

Wanda’s cinema operations were last year expanded through the acquisition of Australia’s number two theaters group Hoyts.

The Wanda name was last year also linked to speculation about the purchase of the U.K.-based, pan-European Odeon cinema chain. Unusually, Wanda issued a statement denying that it was in the running.

Wanda has announced a diversification from its original property development into entertainment, leisure and online. But it also continues to develop its core real estate business and last month unveiled plans to invest $10 billion in India’s Haryana, the state that in near to Delhi. It is developer of the Nine Elms complex on the South Bank of London’s River Thames and also has a $1.2 billion mixed use development under way in Beverly Hills (9900 Wilshire Blvd.).

Wang’s five day tour takes in France and Switzerland as well as the U.K. Among his tasks in Britain is the launch of the English-language version of his management philosophy book “The Wanda Way.”

Switzerland is home to the largest unit of Wanda’s fast growing sports division. Wanda last year acquired Infront Sports & Media, a company that controls rights to some 4,000 days of sports events per year, including the German and Italian football (soccer) leagues, China’s basketball association and the Winter Olympics.

In 2014 Wanda  acquired a 20% stake in Spanish soccer club Atletico Madrid and last year it bought the World Triathlon Corporation, organizer of triathlon events and the Ironman competition.

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