China's Wanda Says Film Unit Has Raised $2.4 Billion in Share Sale

Wanda chairman Wang Jianlin
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According to an offering document seen by The Hollywood Reporter, the Chinese conglomorate had been seeking to raise $1.5 billion, and has already exceeeded its target.

Chinese real estate and investment conglomerate Dalian Wanda Group has raised $2.4 billion for its film production subsidiary, the company's vice president said Thursday.

Wanda had been seeking to raise about $1.5 billion since February for its Wanda Pictures unit from a share sale to domestic Chinese investors, according to a private offering document seen by The Hollywood Reporter. At a briefing in Hong Kong on Thursday, Dalian Wanda Group vice president Liu Zhaohui announced that the sale was already $900 million oversubscribed. The news was first reported by Bloomberg.  

Wanda's fundraising plans emerged shortly after it acquired Thomas Tull's Legendary Entertainment for $3.5 billion in January. The successful fundraising round is expected to help Wanda offset the acquisition costs of Legendary, as the company continues its ambitious expansion in the film sector.

The strategy is reminiscent of the "asset-light" approach that Wanda chairman Wang Jianlin, one of China's wealthiest individuals, has employed in the company's core real estate business, using outside investment to finance expansion.

"The best business is to do your business with investments from others," Wang said in a lecture at the Shenzhen stock exchange last spring.

For over a year, Wanda has indicated that it will seek a public listing for its movie production and distribution affiliates. A document filed with Chinese regulators earlier this month revealed that Wanda now plans to execute a reverse IPO, folding Wanda Pictures — including Legendary — into its publicly traded movie theater business, Wanda Cinema Line. The cinema chain, China's largest by screen count, was halted from trading on the Shenzhen Stock Exchange in February, pending the announcement of an acquisition. 

Wang has said that he hopes to control no less than 20 percent of the global film business by 2020. The company first made international waves in the movie business when it acquired a 75 percent stake in U.S. film exhibitor AMC Entertainment for $2.6 billion in 2012.

On March 4, Wanda-controlled AMC agreed to buy Carmike Cinemas in a $1.1 billion cash deal. Once it closes, the acquisition will combine the second- and fourth-largest cinema chains in the U.S. to create the world's largest theater circuit with 8,400 screens. Wang has expressed interest in expanding his global theater network even further by buying a chain in Europe or the U.K. 

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