Wanda Puts the Brakes on Legendary Merger

The planned asset reorganization was called off due to “major changes” in the Shenzhen stock market

Dalian Wanda
Dalian Wanda

Wanda Cinema Line announced in a Monday filing that it would suspend a reorganization of assets that would have folded “Jurassic World” production company Legendary Entertainment into the theater chain, citing “major changes” in market conditions and the desire for Legendary to show a profit.

Wanda Cinema Line’s parent company, Dalian Wanda Group, acquired Legendary in January in a deal valued at $3.5 billion. The unit operated 311 theaters with 2,700 screens as of May 31, making it China’s largest exhibitor. The cinema chain’s shares currently trade on the Shenzhen Stock Exchange, although they’ve been suspended from changing hands since February.

In May, Wanda Cinema Line announced plans to buy Wanda Media, the subsidiary that owns Legendary, for $5.7 billion, but various hurdles have sprung up since.

Shenzhen Stock Exchange regulators raised questions about the price paid for Wanda Media and the identities of the 33 companies Wanda listed as part of the buyout. One concern was that the multitude of entities participating in what was listed as a private placement could make it a public offering, which would have to be opened to other investors. As a result, Wanda decided to halt the planned reorganization due to “a comprehensive consideration of the transaction at this stage,” but plans to continue building a vertically integrated “strategic movie ecosystem,” according to the filing submitted to the Shenzhen Stock Exchange.

To that end, Wanda Cinema Line made its first-ever direct investment in Hollywood in May, announcing that its subsidiary Movie Media Group signed a deal to co-produce Paramount’s “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows.”

Wanda did not immediately respond to TheWrap’s request for comment, but in the filing the company indicated it would pursue the reorganization again after “further discussion” and “better integration” of Legendary, and remains bullish on the “Sino-U.S. film and television industry.”