Wanda exits AMC in defeat, liquidates holdings

Wang Jianlin, chairman of Dalian Wanda Group, has reduced his holdings in AMC, the largest theater chain in the U.S., from a 37.7% stake to 0.002%, almost all of it. In the last week, he reduced his holdings and realized more than $426 million.

Caixin reports that AMC announced that Wanda Group reduced its stake in the company to 0.002%. The filing disclosed that Wanda reduced its holdings in AMC Entertainment five times between May 13 and 18, with a total of more than 30.44 million shares traded at between $14 and $15, realizing more than $426 million.

Wanda Group acquired AMC in 2012 for $2.6 billion, and the company lost $4.6 billion last year after the epidemic hit.

In October last year, Wanda held 37.7% of the shares and 64.5% of the voting rights. Wanda, as the majority shareholder, was unable to cope with the losses and reduced its position one after another.

AMC disclosed in its earnings report in March this year that Wanda had relinquished its controlling stake in the company, but remained the top shareholder with a 9.8% stake.

Then in April this year, the company reported that Wanda’s position had dropped to 6.8%. In response to Wanda’s exit, AMC also released a statement thanking Wanda for being there for the past nearly a decade.

Adam Aron, chairman of the board and CEO of AMC Entertainment, said Wanda has been an excellent shareholder of AMC Entertainment, and during its ownership, AMC became the largest cinema operator in the world.

It is worth noting that AMC Entertainment’s shareholding continues to be highly diversified as Wanda reduces its holdings. The company disclosed that no single shareholder currently holds more than 10% of its shares and that the total number of individual shareholders exceeds 3 million.

AMC was also a popular target in this year’s retail speculation represented by GameStop, with shares once topping $20 reaching ten times last year’s low and nearing post-2018 highs.

The economic reboot concept has also made this theater stock the subject of speculation once again after the end of the retailer’s anomaly. As of Friday’s close, AMC Entertainment closed at $12.08, up 469% on the year.

Bloomberg reports that Wanda’s reduction in its AMC holdings shows a further contraction in the group’s offshore operations; last year, Wanda sold its last overseas real estate project in Chicago. The company, whose businesses span shopping malls, movies, sports and theme parks, is one of the mainland conglomerates that has accumulated a huge debt after buying prestigious overseas assets at high prices.

Since 2017, Wanda Group has been hit by a massive “stock and debt” crisis, started to shrink its overseas front and has been actively slimming down to cut its debt.

Wanda founder Wang Jianlin was once the richest man on the mainland, ranking 278th with a current worth of $9.2 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.