The deal is the third-largest Chinese corporate investment in the U S , according to financial analysis firm Dealogic. It ranks behind investments by BSWF, the CIC, of $5 billion in Morgan Stanley and $3 billion in Blackstone Group LP, both for minority stakes.
Dalian Wanda Group Co.’s purchase reflects the global ambitions of a wave of cash-rich Chinese companies that are using acquisitions to speed their expansion by obtaining foreign skills and brand names.
“We support AMC becoming bigger, not only in the United States but in the global market,” said Wanda chairman Wang Jianlin at a signing ceremony for the acquisition.
Wanda said the deal will create the world’s biggest movie theater operator. The Beijing-based company said it will invest an additional $500 million to fund AMC’s development. AMC operates 346 cinemas, mostly in the United States and Canada, and says it has 23 of the 50 highest-grossing U.S. outlets.
Wang said Wanda has applied to China’s government for a license to import movies, a right held now by two state-owned companies. But he said the AMC acquisition concerned only film exhibition, not production or distribution.
Chinese companies had invested $34.8 billion in the United States by the end of 2011 in industries including auto parts, agriculture and steelmaking, according to data compiled by Derek Scissors, a China analyst at the Heritage Foundation in Washington.
The deal reflects rising Chinese investment in U.S. corporate assets despite disputes between the two governments over trade and political issues such as this month’s diplomatic standoff over a blind Chinese legal activist.