China’s Wanda buys Dick Clark Productions for $1 billion

BEIJING (AP) — China’s Dalian Wanda Group has added another entertainment trophy to its stable of overseas acquisitions, paying $1 billion for Dick Clark Productions, the TV company that produces the Golden Globes and the “Miss America” pageant.

Wanda is one of China’s most important conglomerates and China’s largest property developer. Its chairman, Wang Jianlin, is China’s richest man by most measures, with an estimated net worth exceeding $32 billion.

The company owns AMC Theatres and bought Legendary Entertainment for $3.5 billion in January. In September, it announced a movie partnership with Sony Pictures.

Diversifying away from China’s weakening property market, Wanda Group has made entertainment a major focus of its growth in recent years. It has openly embraced a mission to fend off Western imports in the Chinese market and become a globally recognized Chinese entertainment brand.

That push into the U.S. entertainment industry has raised alarm among some American lawmakers concerned about creative freedom and the promotion of Chinese propaganda. A group of legislators recently asked the U.S. Government Accountability Office to review Chinese takeovers.

The namesake company of legendary American television host Dick Clark was purchased in 2012 by a group including investment firm Guggenheim Partners. It produces several awards shows and the New Year’s Eve countdown show in New York.

Wanda said in a statement Friday that Dick Clark Productions’ existing management “will remain in its entirety,” and that both sides had reached a long-term operating agreement. It expects Dick Clark Productions to show “strong increases” in revenue and profit every year, but did not say whether its agreement with management was contingent on revenue targets.

Wanda’s statement said it expected to find ways to coordinate development between Dick Clark Productions and its previous deals in film, tourism and sports.

Hollywood has eagerly welcomed Chinese partners. From 2000 to 2015, Chinese direct investment in U.S. entertainment firms amounted to $4 billion, according to Rhodium Group. That pace then skyrocketed in January with Wanda’s purchase of Legendary, which almost doubled that total by itself.