Wang Jianlin warns of US investment curbs

By AMY HE in New York | | Updated: 2017-01-23 06:02

Wang Jianlin reiterated that he would be interested in purchasing a top Hollywood studio if the opportunity arose and warned that US interference on Chinese investments in the US entertainment industry would hurt both parties.

"If the US blocks Chinese capital, China can retaliate with protectionist measures. This won't be good for anyone," said Wang, the billionaire founder and chairman of Dalian Wanda Group Co Ltd, according to Bloomberg. Wang answered questions at a Q&A panel at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.

Wang's comments came in response to increased talk in Congress to further scrutinize foreign investments in strategic sectors in the US, including media.

More than a dozen members of Congress have written a letter to the US Government Accountability Office asking for investigations into Chinese takeovers of American companies, citing Wanda by name.

Though industry watchers had mostly dismissed the letter, after the election of Donald Trump, negative rhetoric about trade with China increased.

After the election, Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer, a Democrat from New York, wrote his own letter asking for increased scrutiny into companies like Wanda that have been making major investments in the US.

Marc Ganis, co-founder of American distribution company Jiaflix, said that he expects that over a "relative period of time, an equilibrium will present itself that will address the political concerns while allowing appropriate investment on both sides of the Pacific in the entertainment industry."

Wang has emphasized that Wanda is not interested in interfering with content and is only interested in making money off the acquisitions and financial partnerships, and reiterated it again at Davos.

"[Studios] produce their films, and I only demand profits from them. A few years ago, there were concerns that AMC would only screen Chinese films after I bought it," he told John Micklethwait, Bloomberg's editor-in-chief, at the Bloomberg-hosted panel.

"The US companies I've bought are still run by Americans," he said.

AMC Entertainment is currently run by Adam Aron. But at Legendary Entertainment, which was acquired by Wanda in early 2016, CEO Thomas Tull is leaving after it was announced this week that he would tend to his other companies.

Wang also repeated that he would be interested in acquiring one of the big six Hollywood studios: "Of course, if we are able to buy one of the top six, that would be a great thing to do. However, these six companies aren't in a selling mood, so that's an issue we can't crack," according to Bloomberg.

Stanley Rosen, a politics professor at the University of Southern California, said that Wang might also be making assertive remarks in front of a Western audience because he is concerned about scrutiny that his company faces that other companies may not.

"There's no doubt he's worried, and he has to be concerned that Jack Ma has been treated so nicely by Trump," Rosen said. "Wang always mentions the 20,000 jobs he's created in the US, but Jack Ma promised a million!"

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