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Asia300

Dalian Wanda to buy Nordic cinema operator

Chinese movie giant extending influence further across Europe

DALIAN -- China's leading property developer, Dalian Wanda Group, said on Monday it will acquire Nordic Cinema Group Holding, the largest cinema operator in the Nordic region, for $930 million.

Dalian's U.S.-based cinema operating arm, AMC Entertainment Holdings, will make the purchase.

In December, Dalian Wanda bought Odeon & UCI Cinemas Holdings, the U.K.-based leading cinema operator in Europe. By adding Nordic, Dalian Wanda, which is already the biggest cinema operator in Europe, hopes to extend its reach across the continent further.

Nordic currently runs 118 theaters with a total of 664 screens in about 50 cities, in countries including Sweden and Finland.

Since it acquired AMC in 2012, Dalian Wanda has been expanding through mergers and acquisitions. The Chinese company is now the world's biggest cinema operator with 1,470 theaters and more than 15,000 screens. "After acquiring Nordic, Wanda is one step closer to reaching the goal of taking 20% of world's film market share," the company said.

However, a series of acquisitions have eroded Dalian Wanda's finances. Its interest-bearing debt is estimated to be more than $26 billion. Chairman Wang Jianlin told reporters this month that he will keep an eye on the balance between the company's debt and equity, hoping to bring the company back to fiscal health.

Subsidiary Dalian Wanda Commercial Properties was given a rating close to junk by a European ratings agency. If the latest acquisition causes a further downgrade, the company will face even deeper financial problems through an increase in the cost of borrowing, among other difficulties.

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