AEON Insurance owner buys Batman studio - 5 more major acquisitions in the pipeline

He’s just agreed to pay $3.5Bn in cash for a movie studio with hits such as Batman Begins, Superman Returns and Godzilla. And now he’s announced he’s going shopping for more “major’ acquisitions in an already pretty diversified portfolio

Insurance News


Jill Mao

Dalian Wanda Group Co., the property-to- entertainment conglomerate headed by Asia’s richest man, is planning five "substantial" acquisitions this year as the company braces for a drop in sales.

Wanda, led by Chinese billionaire Wang Jianlin, is aiming to complete three overseas purchases and two domestic ones, excluding cinema chains, it said in an e-mail on Monday. Separately, Wanda forecast that sales will fall 12 percent in 2016 as slumping revenue from its main real estate business overshadows gains from the burgeoning entertainment operations.

Wang, best known in our industry for his stewardship of the AEON Life insurance brand, is increasingly looking toward entertainment to account for a greater slice of his business empire as China’s slowing economy ripples through his other businesses. AEON received clearance from the Chinese authorities to invest in overseas assets in March last year. Last week, Wanda announcedit will buy Legendary Entertainment, the U.S.- based producer of "Godzilla," for $3.5 billion in cash, paving the way for Wang to become the first Chinese person to control a Hollywood film company.

Entertainment Empire

Legendary will join Wang’s growing global entertainment portfolio that already includes the likes of U.S. theater chain AMC Entertainment Holdings Inc., Infront Sports & Media AG and a stake in Spain’s Club Atletico de Madrid soccer team.

Wang, estimated by the Bloomberg Billionaires Index to have a fortune of $30 billion, said last week that he’s looking to buy cinema assets in Europe but is waiting for the right time because prices are too high. In its latest statement, the group said Wanda Cinema will continue expanding via the purchase of local theater chains.

On earnings, Wanda forecast total revenue will decline to 254.3 billion yuan ($39 billion) in 2016 as the commercial properties operations see sales drop 32 percent to 130 billion yuan. Still, the group forecast profit will rise this year, without specifying figures.

The entertainment business, called Wanda Cultural Industry Group, will probably see sales increase 30 percent to 66.6 billion yuan, helped by earnings from Legendary Entertainment.


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