Dalian Wanda to Buy Majority Stake in Legendary Entertainment: Reuters

  • Deal values filmmaker Legendary at up to $4 billion: report
  • Wanda led by China's richest man, targeting film, sports buys

Dalian Wanda Group Co., led by China’s richest man Wang Jianlin, is in talks to buy a majority stake in Legendary Entertainment, valuing American film and television company at as much as $4 billion, Reuters reported, citing an unnamed person familiar with the matter.

China real estate group Wanda, which already controls the second-largest U.S. cinema chain AMC Entertainment Holdings Inc., is to own a little more than half of Burbank, California-based Legendary, with an agreement signed and an announcement due as early as next week, Reuters reported.

A Wanda representative declined to comment. Melissa Zukerman, spokeswoman for Legendary, also declined to comment.

Beijing-based Wanda, which has been making acquisitions worldwide including in films, sports and finance, plans to list its movie production business in China by 2016, Wang said in an interview with Caixin magazine in November. Wanda is building the world’s biggest studio-plus-theme park on China’s eastern coast and in 2014 bought land in Beverly Hills, calling the $1.2 billion complex it plans to erect there its “first important step into Hollywood.”

Wang’s net worth is estimated at $33.9 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaire Index.

Fund Raising

Legendary, led by film producer Thomas Tull, had been in talks to borrow as much as $700 million to make films in a financing led by JPMorgan Chase & Co. and Bank of America Corp., according to people involved in the discussions last April. The company, which has fantasy hits including “Jurassic World,” "Interstellar” and “Godzilla" in October 2014 raised $250 million in equity from SoftBank Corp.

Legendary investors including SoftBank have agreed to sell their stakes, Reuters reported Tuesday. A SoftBank spokeswoman, Hiroe Kotera, wasn’t immediately able to comment.

Wanda in August agreed to buy Ironman organizer World Triathlon Corp. for $650 million, becoming the owner of the world’s largest sports operating company and adding to its sports-related holdings that include marketing company Infront Sports & Media AG and a 20 percent stake in Spanish soccer team Atletico Madrid.

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