Chinese conglomerate Dalian Wanda Group is officially buying Dick Clark Productions for about $1 billion, marking its first play in the TV production industry and expanding its reach in Hollywood.
Wanda, led by China’s richest man, Wang Jianlin, plans to acquire 100% of the TV production company behind the Golden Globe Awards broadcast, the company said Thursday.
The name of Dick Clark evokes Hollywood history, but the price likely represents a significant premium to the firm’s intrinsic value, according to analysts. Four years ago a group of investors led by Guggenheim Partners bought it for $380 million. The firm is currently controlled by Eldridge Industries.
The deal was expected since the companies first confirmed they were in talks in late September. Dick Clark Productions’ management team is expected to remain in place after the acquisition is completed, Wanda said in a brief statement.
“It’s a big step forward in expanding Wanda’s map in the entertainment industry,” the company said.
Dick Clark Productions did not immediately comment on the planned sale.
Wanda, which owns massive holdings in shopping malls and cinemas, has been the most aggressive player leading China’s charge into the U.S. entertainment industry.
The firm bought No. 2 U.S. theater chain AMC Entertainment for $2.6 billion in 2012, and took over Legendary Entertainment this year in a $3.5-billion deal. Wanda also is trying to buy Carmike Cinemas through AMC, and was pursuing a purchase of 49% of Paramount Pictures before Viacom brass scuttled the sale.
Additionally, Wanda is beckoning U.S. producers to its 408-acre, $8.2-billion moviemaking complex in the coastal city of Qingdao. Last month Wang came to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art event to announce a 40% subsidy for productions that film at the studio facility.
While Wanda has a footprint in feature film, Dick Clark represents its entry into television.
Besides the Golden Globes, Dick Clark Productions produces Academy of Country Music Awards, Billboard Music Awards and “Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve With Ryan Seacrest.”
Dick Clark Productions was founded 61 years ago by the late television personality and his longtime business partner.
The deal comes after U.S. lawmakers have expressed concerns about Wanda’s moves in Hollywood, citing misgivings about the potential influence the communist country could wield over American film and TV content. Wanda has close ties with the Chinese government.
Dick Clark Productions has a contract with NBC to air the Golden Globes through 2018 in an agreement with the Hollywood Foreign Press Assn., which owns the program.
Some analysts have questioned Wanda’s willingness to pay steep prices for legacy entertainment assets such as Dick Clark.
Still, the acquisition underscores Wanda’s seriousness about gaining footholds in multiple segments of Hollywood, said Lindsay Conner, an entertainment industry lawyer and partner in the firm Manatt, Phelps & Phillips.
“This is a place where the strategic value might substantially exceed its financial value, because it would give Wanda a U.S.-based TV operation instantly,” Conner said in an interview when the talks first became public.
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