LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Chinese conglomerate Dalian Wanda Group completed its $2.6 billion purchase of U.S.-based movie theater chain AMC Entertainment, a move that creates the world’s largest theater owner, the companies said on Tuesday.
The deal unites Wanda’s 94 theaters with AMC’s 338 theaters, the companies said in a statement. About 200 million people watched movies in AMC theaters in 2011, and it is also the largest operator of large-format Imax screens.
Wanda will operate AMC as a wholly-owned subsidiary and invest up to $500 million annually in the unit, a statement from the companies said. AMC will continue to control film programming and will keep its headquarters in the Kansas City area.
Wanda, controlled by billionaire Wang Jianlin, announced in May it had agreed to buy AMC for about $2.6 billion including debt.
The purchase is Wanda’s first investment outside of China and its first foray into the United States and Canada, the world’s biggest film market with ticket sales of $10.2 billion last year. It is also the largest overseas acquisition by a privately held Chinese company.
Reporting By Lisa Richwine