Wanda Group Boss Touts Benefits of AMC Entertainment Deal

Wang Jianlin - P 2012
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"This is a long-term investment," says Wang Jianlin and promises a mostly hands-off approach.

The Chairman of Chinese entertainment and property company Wanda Group told the Wall Street Journal that he may make further moves into the entertainment industry.

Wanda on Monday announced that it would buy U.S. movie theater giant AMC Entertainment Holdings.

"It was simply worth it," Wang Jianlin told the Journal in an interview. "If you buy a screen in China, it costs 3 million yuan (about $473,500). If you buy the same screen in the U.S., it's less."

Critics have said there is no major synergy between AMC and the company's Chinese theaters.

The AMC deal will give Wanda more than 5,000 movie screens mostly in the U.S. and Canada. It owns 86 movie theaters in China.

Wang will invest an additional $500 million in AMC to update its facilities. He told the Journal that his team would encourage AMC to attract audiences with new offers, such as bars or business-class sections. He also promised major advertising campaigns for the theater chain.

The entire effort to rebuild AMC will take at least three years, Wang said. "This is a long-term investment," the Journal quoted him as saying. "Private equity lacks the long-term vision that we have."

He also signaled a mostly hands-off approach to managing AMC. Wanda will only send one executive to the U.S. to work with the company, and "AMC leaders will need to innovate and formulate their plan for improving the market," he said.

Wang also said he hopes to invest in film production, movie studios and live entertainment, but the Journal didn't provide further details.

He also said he wants Wanda to become the world's largest retailer by space by 2015 with 25 million square meters (269 million square feet).