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Wanda to announce 'major deal' this week, chairman Wang says
[NEW YORK] Dalian Wanda Group Co, the Chinese conglomerate that's been on an acquisition spree, is planning to announce a "major deal" on Friday, billionaire Chairman Wang Jianlin said.
Mr Wang, who spoke at Oxford University on Tuesday, didn't provide details of the deal beyond saying that it would be outside of the UK. Wanda is also in talks on a "comprehensive" project involving entertainment in the UK that would result in 10,000 jobs, he said.
Mr Wang, who vies with Alibaba Group Holding Ltd's Jack Ma as China's richest man, has had a busy year by agreeing to buy "Godzilla"-producer Legendary Entertainment for US$3.5 billion, investing in three hospitals for US$2.3 billion, forming a financial group and signing a US$10 billion development deal in India. In addition, Wanda has said it's planning five major acquisitions in 2016 - three of them overseas.
Separately, the group's Wanda Cinema Line Co theater-chain unit was halted from trading in Shenzhen on Wednesday pending the announcement of an acquisition.
Wanda is seeking to acquisitions to bolster growth as the group braces for falling sales from its main property business. That's prompted Mr Wang, estimated by the Bloomberg Billionaires Index to have a fortune of US$27.2 billion, to increasingly look toward expanding his entertainment business.
In buying Legendary, Mr Wang is poised to become the first Chinese person to control a Hollywood film company. Aside from running China's biggest movie-theater chain, he bought control of AMC Entertainment Holdings Inc in the US in 2012. He's also building a 50 billionyuan (S$10.83 billion) complex in eastern China that will include the world's largest movie studio.
Yet Mr Wang, who's sought to invest in Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Inc years ago, still lacks control of a major Hollywood studio, an ambition he's voiced in the past.
One is up for sale. Viacom Inc chief executive officer Philippe Dauman said Tuesday that it's exploring the sale of a stake in Paramount Pictures and that it expects to reach an agreement by June.
A Wanda representative wasn't immediately available to comment on the prospects of the Chinese company being a suitor for Paramount, while a Viacom spokesman declined to comment.
Wanda also lacks much in terms of film-related operations in Europe, where he's traveling this week, though the group's investments in the region include the Club Atletico de Madrid soccer team and Swiss marketing firm Infront Sports & Media AG.