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China's Wanda Group buys AMC movie chain for $2.6 billion

Transactions creates world's biggest cinema owner

BEIJING — A Chinese conglomerate announced Monday it will buy U.S. cinema chain AMC Entertainment Holdings for $2.6 billion to create the world’s biggest movie theater operator.

Dalian Wanda Group Co.’s purchase reflects the growing global ambitions of China’s cash-rich major companies and an increasing trend for deals that acquire foreign skills and brands to speed their expansion.

Wanda said it is willing to invest an additional $500 million to fund AMC’s expansion. AMC headquarters will remain in the Kansas City area and day-to-day operations and management will remain unchanged.

“We support AMC becoming bigger, not only in the United States but in the global market,” said Wanda Chairman Wong Jianlin.

Wong said AMC’s CEO Gerry Lopez will join the board of Wanda’s cinema unit and a Wanda executive will join the AMC board.

AMC’s staff numbers are not expected to be affected, the company said. AMC, which operates nearly half of the 50 top-grossing theaters in the U.S., has roughly 18,500 employees.

Privately owned Wanda operates hotels, department stores, tourism and other businesses. Its assets include 86 theaters in China and film production and distribution businesses.

Wanda has $16.7 billion in annual revenue and $35 billion in assets.

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