China mogul's cinema chain gets nod for mainland IPO that might raise $326 million

By Reuters

Nov 29, 2014 04:28 AM EST

Wanda Cinema Line Co. Ltd., a movie theater company controlled by Chinese real estate mogul Wang Jianlin, has received approval for a share-offering in China in which it hopes to raise up to 2 billion yuan (US$325.6 million).

The listing approval was announced late Friday by China Securities Regulatory Commission. It comes as Wang, who Forbes magazine says is China's fourth-richest man, prepares a huge initial public offering in Hong Kong for his real estate unit, Dalian Wanda Commercial Properties Co (IPO-DWC.SS).

The two listings, expected to be completed before the end of the year, would raise capital to accelerate Wang's expansion in property and entertainment.

Officials at Wanda, the biggest theater operator in China, were not immediately available to comment.

China's box-office takings, which reached 22 billion yuan last year, are growing 30 percent annually, according to Beijing-based market research firm EntGroup Inc.

The China Film Producers' Association has said China will overtake the U.S. as the world's biggest movie market within three years.

Wanda Cinema plans to use the bulk of its IPO proceeds to build theatres, the company said this year in a regulatory filing. As of June 30, according to Wanda, it had 150 motion-picture houses with 1,315 screens in more than 80 Chinese cities.

Revenue at Wanda, which controls 14.5 percent of the market, increased 33 percent to 4.02 billion yuan last year while profit grew 55 percent to 604.8 million yuan.

"Wanda has a very strong capital background and it builds cinemas at a very fast pace," said Liu Cuiping, deputy research manager at EntGroup.

Wang, chairman and founder of Dalian Wanda Group, holds 68 percent of the theater chain. Wang's four brothers and his son jointly own a 3.4 percent stake, according to the filing.

In 2012, Wanda bought U.S. cinema chain AMC Entertainment Holdings Inc (AMC.N) for $2.6 billion, including about $2 billion in assumed debt. The deal was the largest overseas acquisition by a privately-held Chinese firm and Wanda's first investment outside of China. A year later, AMC raised $332 million in its own U.S. share sale.

In August, Wanda announced it had won the bid for a plot of land in Beverly Hills and would spend $1.2 billion for a development there as its "first important step into Hollywood".

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