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China's Wanda adds Nordic screens to its cinema empire
[SHANGHAI] Chinese conglomerate Wanda Group said its US-based AMC Theatres chain will buy the Nordic region's largest cinema operator for US$930 million, further expanding the company's world-beating cinema empire.
Wanda said late on Monday the acquisition of Stockholm-based Nordic Cinema Group Holding brings the Chinese property-to-entertainment giant "one step closer to reaching the goal of taking 20 per cent of (the) world's film-market share".
"The combination with Nordic will result in AMC's hitting the never-before-reached milestone of 1,000 theatres and 11,000 screens in 15 countries," a Wanda statement said.
"This will further strengthen AMC's current position of being the largest cinema operator in the world."
The deal follows its US$1.2 billion dollar bid last summer for AMC's American rival Carmike, and another US$1.2 billion takeover of Europe's biggest movie theatre Odeon and UCI Cinema, which was finalised on November 30.
US regulators approved the Carmike deal in December, after AMC addressed anti-trust concerns.
Wanda, headed by one of China's richest men, Wang Jianlin, is a commercial property developer that has diversified rapidly in recent years into entertainment and sports, partly as a buffer against Chinese real estate volatility.
Wanda bought AMC Entertainment Holdings - owner of AMC Theatres - for US$2.6 billion in 2012, and last year acquired Legendary Entertainment, makers of the recent Batman trilogy and Jurassic World, for US$3.5 billion.
In 2016 Wanda also purchased Dick Clark Productions, which stages the Golden Globe awards, for about US$1 billion, while AMC bought London-based Odeon & UCI cinema group, Europe's biggest movie theatre operation, for around US$1.2 billion.
Nordic has 118 cinemas and 664 screens in nearly 50 cities in the Nordic and Baltic nations, Wanda's statement said.
Wanda said it or its subsidiaries now operate 1,470 cinemas and more than 15,000 screens around the world.
Chinese companies have been snapping up leading filmmakers and television producers as the government encourages domestic firms to go abroad in search of better returns and greater international influence.
But the trend has raised concern among US legislators, who fear that Chinese firms, which often have close ties to Beijing, may use their growing influence to stifle crticism of the communist government.