Chinese investor ID Leisure Ventures has acquired Australian cinema chain Hoyts from Pacific Equity Partners, which has owned the circuit since 2007. Based in British Virgin Islands, ID Leisure is a subsidiary of Chinese property developer Dalian Yifang Group. Dalian Yifang also owns 6.3% stake in Wanda Commercial Properties and 4.2% stake in Wanda Cinema Line.
ID Leisure is the second Chinese property company to purchase a cinema exhibitor overseas after Dalian Wanda Group’s acquisition of US cinema chain AMC in 2012. With over 400 screens across Australia and New Zealand, Hoyts is the second largest circuit in Australia by screen count after Amalgamated Holdings-controlled cinema chains BCC and Greater Union. Hoyts also owns advertising business Val Morgan and DVD rental company Hoyts Kiosk, and both have a dominant market share in Australia.
Via this deal, Chinese companies are again demonstrating their global ambitions in expanding their presence in the film business. From Wanda’s acquisition of US exhibitor AMC, to Fosun’s investment in Studio 8, to Huayi Brothers opening an office in US looking for opportunity, and to Wanda’s stated interest to purchase Hollywood mini-studio Lionsgate; all show a strong interest of cooperation and investment from Chinese companies. As the second largest film industry in the world, Chinese film market is now in an unprecedented promising period, where foreign companies are trying to get into the market, and vice versa local Chinese companies also keen to look for outside opportunities. China had another good year with box office going up 36.2% to reach RMB29.6 billion (US$4.76 billion) in 2014. Cinema admissions also reached a historical high of 830 million.