A $1 billion bid by China’s Wanda Group for the operator of the Golden Globe awards has been aborted, the US firm’s parent has said, following reports that it was a victim of a Chinese clampdown on overseas investments.
The acquisitive Chinese property-to-entertainment group had announced in November it planned to buy Dick Clark Productions, the latest move into Hollywood by a company from China.
But Eldridge Industries, the parent of Dick Clark Productions, said in a statement issued in the United States on Friday that the deal was terminated “after Wanda failed to honor its contractual obligations”.
Eldridge Industries added that Dick Clark Productions is suing Wanda for funds it is contractually owed upon “failure to consummate the sale”.
Reached by phone on Monday, a Wanda spokeswoman declined to comment.
Sources told Bloomberg News last week that Wanda struggled to move the money required for the acquisition out of China.
Wanda, headed by one of China’s richest men, Wang Jianlin, is a commercial property developer that has diversified recently into entertainment and sports, partly as a buffer against Chinese real-estate volatility.
Wanda bought AMC Entertainment Holdings — owner of US-based cinema chain AMC Theatres — for $2.6 billion in 2012 and last year acquired Legendary Entertainment, makers of the recent “Batman” trilogy and “Jurassic World”, for $3.5 billion.
The Dick Clark Productions deal would have marked its entry into television production.
Dick Clark Productions’ eponymous founder made his name presenting “American Bandstand” for more than 30 years. The company also owns the television rights to events ranging from Miss America to the New Year countdown in New York’s Times Square.
Chinese firms went on a multi-billion-dollar shopping spree last year, culminating in state-owned ChemChina’s pending $43 billion bid for Swiss seed giant Syngenta.
The acquisitions stoked Chinese official concern over capital flight, reckless investments, slowing domestic economic growth and a weakening yuan currency.
The government began last year to roll out new restrictions to curb the outflow of money into “irrational” investments.
Commerce Minister Zhong Shan on Saturday kept up the criticism of overseas investments by Chinese “companies with no strength or experience”.
“Some companies have already paid the price,” Zhong said during a press conference at the annual session of China’s rubber-stamp legislature.
“We not only discourage these kinds of irrational investments, but we will also be keeping watch on them.”
Other overseas acquisitions have reportedly run into trouble, including a Chinese consortium’s bid to buy Italian football titans AC Milan.
Club owner Silvio Berlusconi said earlier this month he was giving the Chinese Sino-Europe Sports (SES) consortium “extra time” — the latest delay in a takeover that values the club at 740 million euros ($825.4 million).
China’s clampdown marks an about-face after authorities had long urged companies to make overseas acquisitions to gain better returns and technological know-how.
China’s direct overseas investment plummeted 35.7 percent year-on-year in January, according to official data, though the Lunar New Year business slowdown during the month may also have been a factor.
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