Less than six months after Hoyts was bought by Chinese billionaire Sun Xishuang's ID Leisure Ventures, the cinema company is changing hands again.
China’s Wanda Cinema Line Corp, a unit of China's leading property developer Dalian Wanda Group, is buying Hoyts as part of its ambitions to become a global entertainment company.
The price wasn’t disclosed but Variety speculated Wanda is paying about US$750 million (A$900 million) for the 450-screen chain, Val Morgan and Hoyts Kiosk, which is similar to what ID Leisure Ventures reportedly forked out.
The transaction isn’t a big surprise because Wanda looked at buying Hoyts last year when it was put on the sales block by private equity group Pacific Equity Partners.
PEP bought Hoyts in 2007 from West Australian Newspapers and Publishing and Broadcasting Limited for about $440 million.
Also, Sun Xishuang is a major shareholder in Dalian Wanda Commercial Properties Co. and is a close friend of Wanda Group chairman Wang Jianlin.
Hoyts CEO Damian Keogh tells IF, "It's exciting for us to be part of the world's biggest cinema chain. I am optimistic that our capex will be a bit more aggressive over the next couple of years."
Keogh is overseeing the roll out of more premium cinemas branded Lux and has flagged plans to renovate six locations before the end of this year.
Wanda Cinema is China's biggest exhibitor with more than 150 multiplexes and 1,315 screens in 80-plus cities. Dalian Wanda Group acquired North American cinema chain AMC Entertainment for $2.6 billion in 2012.