Chinese firm seeks 49 per cent stake in Paramount

SHANGHAI • Chinese conglomerate Dalian Wanda is in talks to buy a stake in United States film studio Paramount Pictures, according to a report, marking the Asian com- pany's latest move to expand its entertainment empire.

Wanda, which in January bought production giant Legendary Entertainment for US$3.5 billion (S$4.7 billion), is seeking 49 per cent of Paramount from parent company Viacom, the Wall Street Journal quoted "people familiar with the discussions" as saying.

The agreement would give Paramount, which is behind the Star Trek and Indiana Jones franchises, a crucial foothold in the vast Chinese market.

The report comes as Viacom is embroiled in a bitter internal power struggle that pits controlling shareholder Sumner Redstone and his family against other executives.

In late February, chairman and chief executive Philippe Dauman said the firm would sell a significant minority stake in the movie studio and had received expressions of interest. But months later, Mr Redstone said he opposed any such sale in what he considered the jewel in the Viacom empire.

Wanda, founded by Chinese billionaire Wang Jianlin, bought US movie theatre chain AMC in 2012 for US$2.6 billion and AMC just days ago announced it was buying London- based Odeon & UCI cinema group in a deal worth about US$1.2 billion.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 15, 2016, with the headline 'Chinese firm seeks 49 per cent stake in Paramount'. Print Edition | Subscribe