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China’s Dalian Wanda Group is set to make its first foray into France, with an investment in EuropaCity, a retail and entertainment development project outside of Paris.
Wanda will invest in the sprawling €3.1 billion ($3.4 billion) 200-acre sports, arts and retail complex that is due to be completed in 2024, with its money likely going to building an amusement park on the site. Construction is scheduled to start in 2019.
The news was first reported by Bloomberg News. Sources contacted by The Hollywood Reporter confirmed that Wanda will announce the deal on Friday.
Wanda chairman Wang Jianlin had hinted at the deal earlier this week in a speech at Oxford University, driving speculation that his company could acquire a major European studio.
The Chinese conglomerate recently acquired Inception and Jurassic World producer Legendary Entertainment for $3.5 billion. The company has announced that it plans five major acquisitions in 2016, at least three of which will be outside China.
Wang has expressed interest in buying a major studio. With news earlier this week that Viacom was looking to sell a minority stake in Paramount Pictures to a strategic investor, Wanda is seen as one likely suitor.
In France, initial speculation that Wanda could look at buying EuropaCorp — which has been very vocal about looking for a buyer to delist it from being publicly traded in France and recently ousted its CEO Christophe Lambert in an effort to ease any future transition — has been met with skepticism.
Wanda, which acquired North America’s AMC Entertainment cinema chain for $2.6 billion and Australia’s Hoyt cinema chain for $600 million in 2012, may still be looking at European cinema chains or theme parks, analysts said.
The investment in EuropaCity is in line with some of its core business, as the conglomerate already owns a dozen amusement parks in China.
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