Chinese Exhibitor Eyes Acquisition of All or Part of AMC Entertainment (Report)

1:22 AM PST 05/08/2012 by Georg Szalai
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A deal with Wanda Group, one of the country's largest movie theater chains, would bring China's growing interaction with Hollywood to a new level.

AMC Entertainment, the second-largest U.S. film exhibitor, is in discussions to sell itself or a big stake to Wanda Group, the largest Chinese movie theater firm, the New York Times reported.

It said a transaction would value AMC at around $1.5 billion. Talks have taken place on-and-off for more than a year but gained momentum after AMC recently scrapped its plans for an IPO yet again.

A deal would further China's growing interaction with Hollywood. Studios increasingly have looked to China as a key growth market, and several recently have struck co-production or similar deals.

AMC's current owners are private-equity firms Apollo Investment, J.P. Morgan Partners, Bain Capital, the Carlyle Group and others.

Wanda has 86 multiplex locations and 730 screens, including 47 Imax theaters, the Times said. It has targeted a doubling of its screen count by 2015. It also is involved in film production, luxury hotels and department stores.

Wanda's website says the firm accounts for about 15 percent of China's movie ticket sales, which reached $2.1 billion last year.

The Times said that AMC CEO Gerardo Lopez and a company spokeswoman declined comment. Representatives for Apollo and Wanda declined comment or couldn't be reached, it added.

Email: Georg.Szalai@thr.com

Twitter: @georgszalai

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