Billionaire Wang Agrees to Buy Dick Clark Productions for $1 Billion

  • Deal marks Wanda’s entry into television production industry
  • Entire management of Dick Clark Productions to be retained

Wang Jianlin, chairman and president of Dalian Wanda Group.

Photographer: Tomohiro Ohsumi/Bloomberg

Billionaire Wang Jianlin’s Dalian Wanda Group Co. agreed to pay $1 billion for Golden Globe Awards producer Dick Clark Productions Inc., adding a U.S. television industry asset to the Chinese tycoon’s expanding sports and entertainment empire.

The purchase will be Wanda’s first entry into television production, Wang’s entertainment, real estate and finance conglomerate said in a statement on Friday. Wanda, which held exclusive talks with Dick Clark Productions’ owner in September, said it plans to keep all of the Santa Monica, California-based company’s management.

The deal, which requires regulatory approval, gives Wanda control of the company’s music and movie awards programs as well as TV shows such as "So You Think You Can Dance." Wang, Asia’s second-richest person, has been snapping up Hollywood assets and making alliances, agreeing in September to collaborate on movie projects with Sony Corp.’s film unit and buying "Pacific Rim" co-producer Legendary Entertainment for $3.5 billion early this year.

“Investment from China on the whole is a a good thing, but there needs to be more balance,” said Rob Cain, president of Pacific Bridge Pictures. “So far the flow is just one way, because the U.S. is prohibited from investing China’s media industry.”

China limits foreign investment in its media and film industries. Companies based outside the country are barred from having a controlling stake in cinema chains and from investing in film production and distribution companies.

Wanda’s AMC Entertainment Holdings Inc. has also agreed to buy Carmike Cinemas Inc., a deal that would leave Wanda owning the biggest movie-theater chain in the U.S. It is also buying Odeon & UCI Cinemas in the U.K.

For article on lobbyists campaigning against Chinese investment in Hollywood, click here

Wanda is among the Chinese companies that have been spreading money around the industry in the U.S. But entertainment is hardly the only U.S. industry attracting Chinese capital. There was more than $18 billion in direct investment from China in the first half of 2016, according to Rhodium Group, more than the total for all of 2015.

"Obtaining top television production rights brings about complementary and coordinated development for Wanda’s current focuses on the film, tourism and sports industries," Wanda said in the statement.

In the first six months of 2016, Wanda’s entertainment business under the Wanda Cultural Industry Group saw sales rise 57 percent to 29 billion yuan ($4.3 billion).

— With assistance by Prudence Ho, and Jeanne Yang

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