China's Wanda buys Britain's Odeon cinema group for $1 bn

Hong Kong (AFP) - Chinese conglomerate Wanda, owned by one of the country's richest men, said Tuesday it had bought the London-based Odeon & UCI cinema group in a deal worth around $1.2 billion.

Wanda-owned AMC Entertainment Holdings, the second-largest movie theatre chain in North America, said it had entered into a "definitive agreement" to buy Odeon & UCI, which has 242 cinemas and 2,236 screens in Europe.

"While we acknowledge that there are some uncertainties related to Brexit, we are encouraged that current currency rates are highly favorable to AMC with the pound falling to a three-decade low versus the dollar," AMC Chief Executive Adam Aron said in a statement on the company website.

Wanda Group, owned by tycoon Wang Jianlin, bought the US chain AMC in 2012 for $2.6 billion.

His group owns more than 200 malls, shopping complexes and luxury hotels across China.

In March AMC announced it was buying the US chain Carmike Cinemas in another billion-dollar-deal, combining Carmike's 2,954 screens with AMC's 5,426.

AMC said the Odeon & UCI transaction did not affect its ability to complete the Carmike transaction as it had the financing commitments and flexibility to do both transactions.

"Even without taking into account the potential Carmike transaction, the combination of AMC and Odeon & UCI will make AMC the largest movie theatre operator in the world," it added.