Australian cinema chain Hoyts Group has been sold to Wanda Cinema Line Corp, a unit of China’s leading property developer Dalian Wanda Group. The latter didn’t disclose how much it purchased Australia’s second largest cinema chain.
A report by Variety, however, said the deal could have been worth as much as US$750 million. “That is the price understood to have been paid in December 2014,” the report says.
In December, Hoyts was sold to Chinese businessman Sun Xishuang’s ID Leisure Ventures from private equity fund Pacific Equity Partners (PEP). Sun is a major shareholder in Dalian Wanda Commercial Properties Co, as well as a friend of Wang Jianlin, chairman of Wanda Group.
PEP had owned Hoyts since 2007 before it got sold to ID. PEP even considered giving Hoyts an IPO on the Australian Stock Exchange in early 2014. It didn’t materialize.
Ultimately, PEP placed the chain on the market earlier last year.
Wanda’s purchase of Hoyts underlines its desire to move into entertainment and leisure, as well as into Australia, as it seeks to diversify away from real estate. Wanda Cinema Line got listed at China’s Shenzhen Stock Exchange at the end of 2014. It is the biggest private sector cinema operator in China with more than 150 multiplexes found in 80 cities.
According to The Australian, Hoyts operates 400 cinemas across Australia and New Zealand. It has rental machines in 650 locations. It also owns the Val Morgan cinema screen advertising operation.