Wanda Group Gives Up Majority Stake in AMC Theatres

Dalian Wanda Group has given up its majority stake in AMC Entertainment Holdings, the largest theater operator in the United States after it reported a record loss for 2020.

Privately-held conglomerate Wanda, which had cut its stake to 23.08% of AMC’s outstanding shares and 47.37% of combined voting power as of Dec. 31, further reduced its ownership and voting rights to 9.8% as of March 3, according to AMC’s annual report which was filed on Friday. Wanda Group is still the largest shareholder of AMC.

“Even after conversion, Wanda may have significant influence over our corporate management and affairs, due to their representation on the Board of Directors and their 9.8% stock ownership as of March 3, 2021, based on our records and information from Wanda,” AMC said in the filing.

“With no controlling shareholder in place, now, AMC will be governed, just as most other publicly traded companies, with a wide array of shareholders,” the cinema chain’s CEO Adam Aron said in a call.

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Wanda, founded by Chinese billionaire Wang Jianlin, bought AMC in 2012 for $2.6 billion as part of a global credit-fueled expansion into entertainment. However, the conglomerate, which has businesses in shopping malls, film production, sports and theme parks, accumulated a total debt of 362 billion yuan ($56 billion) after buying landmark assets including Spanish soccer club Atletico Madrid, Hollywood studio Legendary Entertainment and real estate in Beverly Hills and London, according to Bloomberg. The report added that the company has shed most of these assets.

Wang’s fortune shrunk to about $14 billion from a peak of $46 billion in 2015, when he was named Asia’s richest person, Bloomberg wrote.

Meanwhile, the theatre chain reported a record loss of $4.6 billion in 2020, after attendance plunged more than 90%. Revenues plummeted 88% year-over-year as the company was forced to close venues and lay off thousands of employees.