Wanda Group Sells Off Almost Entire Stake In AMC Theatres

Chinese conglomerate Wanda Group is apparently done with AMC Theatres. Wanda has had a controlling stake in the massive theater chain since 2012, but a new report reveals that it has essentially sold off its entire stake in AMC Theatres, exiting the U.S. theatrical exhibition business in the process. Part of this seems to be due to recent Reddit-inspired traders that caused AMC shares to go up nearly 300 percent.

The Wanda Group is huge. It has investments in pretty much everything and anything, including construction, entertainment, media, industrial manufacturing, financial services, high technology, hospitality, real estate, retail, healthcare, and sports. It also had a controlling stake in AMC Theatres, the largest movie theater chain in the world.

But according to THR, the days of Wanda and AMC are over. The Chinese conglomerate has sold off what amounts to almost its entire stake in AMC. Per the report, AMC revealed today that "Wanda sold all but 10,000 shares in the past week, netting $426.7 million. It previously sold three tranches last month for $220 million." After an influx of Reddit traders blew up the AMC stock back in January, Wanda traded in its "super-voting Class B stock for Class A common stock, giving up control but given it the option to cash out."

"Even after conversion, Wanda may have significant influence over our corporate management and affairs, due to their representation on the board of directors and their 9.8 percent stock ownership as of March 3, 2021, based on our records and information from Wanda," a regulatory filing said back in March. Wanda previously held somewhere around 58.8% of the voting power of AMC's stock.

Per Wikipedia, Wanda "acquired the American cinema operator AMC Theatres in May 2012 for $2.6 billion, the largest Chinese acquisition of an American company to that date. The acquisition went through successfully in August 2012, making Wanda Cinemas the world's largest cinema operator. As of 2016, Wanda owns approximately 6% of all commercial movie screens in China, and about 13% in the U.S. The company made major changes in AMC theater design and layout, including generously sized reclining seats, waiter service, and expanded food and drink offerings. Ticket sales at AMC nearly doubled in the 18 months following the acquisition, and by the end of 2014 Wanda had reaped a reported profit of about US$900 million."

Of course, the last year has put the movie theater industry in a precarious position due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and while everyone is hoping that theaters bounce back as the pandemic slowly comes under control, it apparently made sense to Wanda to get out now. Then again, I have absolutely no idea how the stock market works, so this all reads like Ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs to me.