Movie theater chain AMC Entertainment is in talks to sell a “significant stake” to the Wanda Group, one of China’s largest theater owners, The New York Times reported late on Monday.
The sale would give China a never-before-seen foothold in American movie exhibition, and give the Chinese company unprecedented leverage with U.S. movie distributors as a company with significant holdings in two huge markets.
The report cited people who’d been briefed on negotiations, though the companies themselves declined to comment. The individuals said talks began more than a year ago, then became more serious in recent weeks “as AMC scrapped plans for a stock offering that would have raised as much as $450 million.”
AMC has been owned since 2004 by an investment group that includes the Apollo Investment Fund, J. P. Morgan Partners, Bain Capital Investors, the Carlyle Group and others, according to the Times. Apollo and its founder, Leon D. Black, also had a major stake in the chain before it was sold eight years ago for about $1.7 billion to a group in which Apollo and J. P. Morgan are the largest holders, with about 39 percent each.
Wanda is part of China's rapidly burgeoning cineplex business. It has 86 multiplex locations and 730 screens, including 47 large-format Imax screens.