China’s Wanda Cinema Line has agreed to buy Hoyts Group, the second largest cinema circuit in Australia for an undisclosed amount. Wanda Cinema Line is a unit of major Chinese conglomerate Dalian Wanda Group. The deal closely follows the recent reported buyout of the same Hoyts Group by ID Leisure Ventures, a fellow Chinese investment and property firm and strong ally of Wanda, from private equity group Pacific Equity Partners in December 2014.
Wanda Cinema Line recently launched a successful IPO on the Shenzen stock market in January 2015. Wanda Cinema Line, as the largest private cinema chain in China, operated close to 1,600 screens in the territory at end 2014, marking a period of significant expansion from just 400 screens in 2009. The company plans to expand to 2,300 screens in 260 sites in China by end 2015.
Hoyts currently operates around 400 screens in Australia and New Zealand.
The deal for Wanda marks its second major acquisition of a cinema circuit outside of China, following the purchase of AMC Entertainment in North America (through Dalian Wanda Group) for $2.6bn in 2012. The acquisition will significantly add to Wanda’s international exhibition clout with the presence of screens in both Australia and New Zealand.
The deal emphasizes Wanda’s commitment to cinema exhibition and its future growth potential, even in mature exhibition economies such as the US and Australia. Following the deal, Wanda will gain further insight into operation of an international circuit and one that particularly in Australia has close working ties with other major exhibitors, including several joint venture sites. Hoyts currently operates several premium cinema tiers including XtremeScreen and Lux, a luxury in seat dining experience.
The recent acquisition is however closer to home in the wider Asia Pacific region where work has recently begun on construction of The Wanda Ridong Jewel ,a major hotel and entertainment complex in Queensland, Australia, in turn the fifth major investment in its international hotel portfolio.
The purchase also further underlines Wanda’s commitment to expansion in the wider media and entertainment fields having also recently acquired a controlling stake in European sports marketing group Infront Sports & Media AG also in 2015.
Wanda is also active across the film value chain in China, engaged in film prodiction and distribution including the prospective opening of Qingdao Oriental Movie Metropolis in 2016, the largest film and TV studio in China.