China's Wanda aborts bid for Golden Globes producer

Wanda has diversified rapidly in recent years from commercial property into entertainment, theme parks, sports and other sectors, and is now reportedly facing difficulty paying off debts run up in its buying sprees

A $1 billion bid by China's Wanda Group for the operator of the Golden Globe awards has been aborted, the US firm's parent has said, following reports that it was sunk by a Chinese clampdown on overseas investments.

The acquisitive Chinese property-to-entertainment group had announced in November it planned to buy Dick Clark Productions, the latest move into Hollywood by a company from China.

But Eldridge Industries, the parent of Dick Clark Productions, said in a statement issued in the United States on Friday that the deal was terminated "after Wanda failed to honour its contractual obligations".

Eldridge Industries added that Dick Clark Productions is suing Wanda for funds it is contractually owed upon "failure to consummate the sale".

Reached by phone on Monday, a Wanda spokeswoman declined to comment.

Sources told Bloomberg News last week that Wanda had struggled to move the money for the acquisition out of China.

"It's almost impossible to use the yuan to invest in overseas projects," Zhang Yichen, chief executive and chairman of Citic Capital Holdings, told Bloomberg News.

"To say that capital controls don't have any impact -- it's a lie. As a result, yuan funds can only give up, and not invest (outside China)."

Wanda, headed by one of China's richest men, Wang Jianlin, is a commercial property developer that has diversified recently into entertainment and sports, partly as a buffer against Chinese real-estate volatility.

Wanda bought AMC Entertainment Holdings -- owner of US-based cinema chain AMC Theatres -- for $2.6 billion in 2012 and last year acquired Legendary Entertainment, makers of the recent "Batman" trilogy and "Jurassic World", for $3.5 billion.

The Dick Clark Productions deal would have marked its entry into television production.

Dick Clark Productions' eponymous founder made his name presenting "American Bandstand" for more than 30 years. The company also owns the television rights to events ranging from Miss America to the New Year countdown in New York's Times Square.

- 'Irrational investments' -

Chinese firms went on a multi-billion-dollar shopping spree last year, culminating in state-owned ChemChina's pending $43 billion bid for Swiss seed giant Syngenta.

The acquisitions stoked Chinese official concern over capital flight, reckless investments, slowing domestic economic growth and a weakening yuan currency.

The government began last year to roll out new restrictions to curb the outflow of money into "irrational" investments.

Commerce Minister Zhong Shan on Saturday kept up the criticism of overseas investments by Chinese "companies with no strength or experience".

"Some companies have already paid the price," Zhong said during a press conference at the annual session of China's rubber-stamp legislature.

"We not only discourage these kinds of irrational investments, but we will also be keeping watch on them."

Central bank governor Zhou Xiaochuan last week blamed the foreign investment wave on "overheated emotions", saying the government's measures have been "necessary and effective".

A $1 billion financing deal between Paramount Pictures and two Chinese film companies, Shanghai Film Group and Huahua Media, has reportedly borne little fruit since it was announced in January.

December saw the collapse of Chinese copper manufacturer Anhui Xinke New Materials' $350 million bid to buy Voltage Pictures, the producer of "The Hurt Locker", shortly after it was announced.

Other overseas acquisitions reportedly running into trouble include a Chinese consortium's purchase of Italian football titans AC Milan, which has been repeatedly delayed.

China's clampdown marks an about-face after authorities had long urged companies to seek better returns and technological know-how through overseas acquisitions.

China's direct overseas investment plummeted 35.7 percent year-on-year in January, according to official data, though the Lunar New Year business slowdown during the month may also have been a factor.