By John Gallagher, International Business Editor
Chinese billionaire, Wang Jianlin, took the next step towards building a global media giant¬ Thursday last week when his company, Dailian Wanda Group announced that they would acquire Dick Clark Productions Inc. for about $1 billion.
Dick Clark Productions is the world’s largest producer and proprietor of televised live event entertainment programming. Their most famous shows are the Golden Globes, the American Music Awards, and the New Year’s Eve Countdown show.
According to Fortune, Wanda owns 134 shopping malls, 82 luxury hotels, 213 movie theaters, 99 department stores, and 54 karaoke centers around China and the company did $39 billion in revenue this past year.
This acquisition is the latest in a string of American media acquisitions for Wanda. In 2012, Wanda purchased theater chain AMC Entertainment, and earlier this year he purchased Legendary Entertainment. He also has a known interest in purchasing Carmike Cinemas, a move that would create the largest movie theater chain in the world.
Wanda was also interested in purchasing a 49 percent stake in Paramount Pictures from Viacom before the shakeup at Viacom interrupted their plans. They also took an equity stake in some of Sony’s recent films in exchange for marketing Sony’s productions to the Chinese consumer, a deal referred to by both sides as a “strategic alliance”.
Some suggest that Wanda’s motives stretch beyond building a global media conglomerate and are driven by a desire to influence American media and propaganda, and policymakers have taken notice. The Wall Street Journal reported that members of the House of Representatives have called for expanding the scope of the Committee on Foreign Investment in the U.S. so it could treat media acquisitions in the same manner as acquisitions such as aerospace or sectors with more obvious security concerns.
The New York Times reported that The Justice Department will begin reviewing Wanda’s recent purchases over fears that the company, which has financial ties to relatives of senior Chinese Communist leaders, could use its expansive media platform to influence China’s image in American entertainment.
However, Wanda is intent on keeping the current management team for Dick Clark in place, alleviating some concerns of too much power being turned over.
Mr. Wang, who built his $32 billion fortune by building shopping malls, movie theaters, and hotels around China, has been trying to build a Hollywood of the East in Chinese city of Qingdao.
He lured movie starts, Leonardo DiCaprio among the group, to his “Movie Metropolis” for their groundbreaking event a few years ago.
Mr. Wang is building high tech production facilities and luxury apartments and hotels in the area in an effort to build the city’s prowess.
Although Mr. Wang claims his latest acquisitions are solely centered on profit, American officials are justifiably concerned about the power they could be gaining be controlling media production and distribution in the United States.
A version of this article appeared in the Tuesday, November 8th print edition.
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