Chinese multinational conglomerate Dalian Wanda has bought the Odeon & UCI cinema chain from the Terra Firma private equity firm for $1.21bn through its US-based AMC Entertainment subsidiary, AMC’s chief executive Adam Aron announced yesterday. The chain owns 242 theatres and 2,236 screens and the deal reinforces AMC’s position as the world’s largest cinema chain operator, giving it a total of 627 theatres and more than 7,600 screens in eight countries. Odeon & UCI will continue to be based in London and will operate as a subsidiary of AMC.
“This is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to acquire Europe’s leading cinema chain and create the world’s biggest and best theatre operator, he said, adding that, although Brexit had created some uncertainties “we are encouraged that current currency rates are highly favourable to AMC with the pound falling to a three decade low versus the dollar”. The sale is still subject to competition clearance from the European Commission.
Dalian Wanda’s owner Wang Jianlin has now spent nearly $8bn in the space of three years building up an international entertainment empire. Calculated by Forbes to be China’s richest man with a real-time net worth of $33bn, the tycoon, who is also the world’s largest commercial real estate developer, bought AMC for $2.6bn in 2013 and earlier this year also acquired Legendary Entertainment.
In recent years he has also bought 20% of Spanish soccer team Atletico Madrid and the organizers of Ironman Triathlons.