China’s Dalian Wanda group has denied reports that it is seeking to sell a minority stake in Legendary Entertainment, the production company behind “Pacific Rim” and the revived “Godzilla” and “Jurassic World” franchises.
The Reuters news agency reported on Friday that the beleaguered Chinese group was exploring the possibility of selling a minority stake in Legendary. Reuters also said that Wanda is trying to sell off its overseas sports assets.
Wanda subsequently denied the report. The company called it “seriously inconsistent with the facts.” Variety’s calls to Legendary have not been answered.
Reuters’ first report said that Wanda is under pressure from government in Beijing to sell off its overseas assets. The company has already sold much of its property portfolio outside China, and in debt reduction moves also sold off parts of its mainland China theme park, hotels and movie studio businesses.
In early September, it was revealed that U.S. finance firm Silver Lake had provided Wanda with a way to reduce its share stake in AMC, the leading North American cinema chain which it had bought in 2012. The $600 million deal, gives Silver Lake a 22% stake in AMC and trims Wanda to a minority position. It also gives Silver Lake a two-year right of first refusal on certain future transfers of AMC shares by Wanda, should the Chinese group seek to further sell down its position.
Wanda acquired Legendary Entertainment in 2016 for an eyebrow-raising $3.5 billion. It proved to be heavily loss-making and its founder Thomas Tull exited a year later.
Wanda appointed Jack Gao as interim head, before installing attorney Joshua Grode as CEO in December 2017. The following month, it hired Wayne Jiang as head of Legendary East, its Chinese distribution arm.
Wanda’s sports properties include the sports rights group Infront Sports & Media, and World Triathlon Corp., owner of the Ironman Triathlon events. Wanda reportedly sought financial advice on the possibility of listing these assets on the Hong Kong or other stock markets. It has received offers for the businesses from private equity groups.