AMC Entertainment, part of the Chinese conglomerate Dalian Wanda, is buying Stockholm-based Nordic Cinema Group for $929 million in another move to increase its share of the world’s cinema screens.
The deal is AMC’s third acquisition of a theater chain in the past year, following the $1.1 billion purchase of Carmike Cinemas and the $650 million purchase of London-based Odeon Cinemas. When combined with Nordic, AMC’s European operations will increase from 243 theaters and 2,262 screens to 361 theaters and 2,926 screens.
AMC is acquiring Nordic from European private equity firm Bridgepoint and Swedish media group Bonnier Holding.
“For the third time in the past 12 months, we believe we have discovered a substantial acquisition that gives AMC yet another opportunity to further expand and diversify our geographic reach and more firmly establish AMC as the undisputed leader in movie exhibition worldwide,” AMC Chief Executive Adam Aron said in a news release.
“We have been impressed with Nordic’s talented leadership team, and further believe that their added expertise will be invaluable to us in helping to drive AMC’s progress across Europe,” he added.
The Carmike deal in July pushed AMC ahead of Regal Entertainment as the world’s largest theater operator. Wang Jianlin, the Chinese billionaire who controls Wanda, has set a goal of owning 20% of the world’s movie screens.
Nordic’s brands include SF Bio in Sweden, SF Kino in Norway, Finnkino in Finland, and Forum Cinemas in Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania. Before the Nordic deal, Wanda controlled some 12% of global screens through AMC and its separately listed Wanda Cinema line, which has theaters in China and also owns Australia’s No. 2 operator, Hoyts.
Wang “believes [the theater chains] will give his company significant negotiating power in discussions with the world’s leading film distributors, most notably the six Hollywood majors,” Variety said.
Wanda has also been making acquisitions outside film exhibition, such as its $3.5 billion deal to buy financier Legendary Entertainment last year, as it seeks to become a global culture conglomerate.