Chinese conglomerate Wanda in talks to buy Lions Gate, MGM in Hollywood push

BEIJING (Reuters) - The golden age of Hollywood could stage something of a comeback.

Chinese property tycoon Wang Jianlin is in talks to buy United States film studio Lions Gate Entertainment, the US$5 billion (S$6.5 billion) producer of movies including The Hunger Games.

In a nod to the early integrated film-making business model, that would put a studio under the roof of Wang's conglomerate Dalian Wanda Group alongside US cinema chain AMC Entertainment.

Discussions between Lions Gate and Dalian Wanda Group are "at an early stage and may not lead to a deal", Bloomberg reported on Monday, citing an interview with Wanda's Chairman Wang Jianlin.

Wang's comments are the latest sign of the company's interest in making further inroads into the US film industry.

It comes three days after Wanda Cinema Line Co Ltd, a movie theatre company controlled by Wang, received approval for a share-offering in China in which it hopes to raise up to 2 billion yuan (S$424 million).

Wang, who Forbes magazine says is China's fourth-richest man, said the owners of Lion Gate "have only been willing to sell a minority stake", according to Bloomberg.

He said he was also in talks about investing in Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Inc, the independent producer of James Bond films..

In 2012, Wanda bought US cinema chain AMC Entertainment Holdings Inc for US$2.6 billion, including about US$2 billion in assumed debt. The deal was the largest overseas acquisition by a privately held Chinese firm and Wanda's first investment outside China.

In August, Wanda announced it had won the bid for a plot of land in Beverly Hills and would spend US$1.2 billion for a development there as its "first important step into Hollywood".

Wang said his company was shifting its focus toward culture, entertainment and e-commerce, according to the Bloomberg report.

In July, Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba Group signed a deal with Lions Gate, the studio behind the Hunger Games films, to launch a subscription streaming service in China.