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article imageChina's Wanda eyes stake in Paramount Pictures

By AFP     Jul 14, 2016 in Business

Chinese conglomerate Wanda is in talks to buy a stake in US film studio Paramount Pictures, according to a report, marking the Asian company's latest move to expand its entertainment empire.

Wanda, which in January bought production giant Legendary Entertainment for $3.5 billion, is seeking 49 percent of Paramount from parent company Viacom, the Wall Street Journal quoted "people familiar with the discussions" as saying. It did not say how much the deal would be worth.

The agreement would give Paramount -- which is behind the multi-billion-dollar Star Trek and Indiana Jones franchises -- a crucial foothold in the vast Chinese market, but the Wall Street Journal said hurdles remain before any deal.

The report comes as Viacom is embroiled in a bitter internal power struggle that pits controlling shareholder Sumner Redstone and his family against other executives.

In late February, chairman and chief executive Philippe Dauman said the firm would sell a significant minority stake in the movie studio and had received expressions of interest. But months later Redstone said he opposed any such sale in what he considered the jewel in the Viacom empire.

Wanda, founded by one of China's richest men Wang Jianlin, has its origins in commercial property but is diversifying into areas ranging from entertainment to sport.

The Chinese company bought US movie theatre chain AMC in 2012 for $2.6 billion and AMC just days ago announced it was buying London-based Odeon & UCI cinema group in a deal worth around $1.2 billion.

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