Shenzhen-listed Wanda Film announced this week that its CEO and director Liu Xiaobin has resigned. The announcement was made five days after it emerged that parent company Wanda Group has given up its majority stake in U.S. cinema chain AMC Entertainment.
Liu, a 20-year Wanda veteran, is also stepping down from his position as a member of the Wanda Film board and its strategy and nomination committees. He is departing “due to personal reasons,” the notice filed to the Shenzhen exchange said.
Liu’s resignation hit the same week that AMC’s annual report showed that Wanda Group has relinquished the controlling stake of AMC it has held since 2012. That $2.6 billion acquisition was at the time a Chinese company’s largest ever overseas purchase of a U.S. firm.
AMC Entertainment reported net losses of $4.6 billion in 2020. As of March 3, 2021, the Chinese company saw its AMC stock ownership diluted to just 9.8%, though it is still represented on AMC’s board of directors with two seats.
Liu’s departure will not cause the number of board members at Wanda Film to fall below the statutory minimum, and it “will not effect the normal operation of (Wanda Film’s) board of directors or the company’s operations,” Wanda Film said. Liu personally holds 104,400 shares in the company.
Although Wanda Film’s RMB19.7 share price slipped 2.5% the day of the announcement last Wednesday, it has since rebounded to RMB19.8. Its stock had dipped to its lowest point so far this year in early March.
Wanda Film produced and financed the Chinese New Year smash-hit “Detective Chinatown 3,” which grossed $680 million in China alone. Nevertheless, after a difficult pandemic year, there remains no guarantee that 2021 will bring smoother sailing.
According to its unaudited projection of 2020 figures, Wanda Film expects net losses in the range of $945 million to $1.07 billion (RMB6.15 to RMB6.95 billion), and revenues down about 60% year-on-year. On Feb. 1, Wanda Film received a letter of concern from the Shenzhen Stock Exchange requesting that it clarify the accuracy of the amount of goodwill impairment it reported for 2020.
Liu came to Wanda Film from the larger Wanda conglomerate’s real estate management side. He joined Wanda Group in October 2000, serving first as deputy general manager of finance for Wanda Commercial Real Estate’s Tianjin and Beijing projects, then general manager of its Jinan projects. He then moved successively up the ranks in Wanda Commercial Real Estate, rising to become its CFO in 2015.