WSJ: Congressman Calls for Review of Wanda Group’s Hollywood Ambitions
News story originally published at WSJ.com
By Erich Schwartzel
Turning up the heat on China’s recent buying spree in Hollywood, a House subcommittee chairman has asked the Justice Department to review entertainment industry acquisitions by Dalian Wanda Group Co.
In a letter on Thursday, Rep. John Culberson (R-Texas) singled out Wang Jianlin, chairman of the Chinese conglomerate, saying his recent takeovers of U.S. entertainment companies have the potential to encourage “foreign propaganda influence over American media.”
The letter is the latest example of growing calls for government scrutiny of Wanda’s acquisition fever, which so far has led to the purchases of exhibitor AMC Entertainment Holdings Inc., production company Legendary Entertainment and pending deals to buy Dick Clark Productions and Carmike Cinemas Inc. Mr. Wang is China’s richest man, and he has made clear that he wants to eventually own one of Hollywood’s six major studios.
“Wanda has and will continue to comply with all applicable U.S. law in connection with its media and entertainment investments in the United States, including without limitation making the appropriate filings with the Federal Trade Commission and the Department of Justice,” a Wanda North America spokeswoman said. Last month, 16 members of the House of Representatives, including Mr. Culberson, wrote a letter asking the Government Accountability Office to review whether the scope of the Committee on Foreign Investment in the U.S. should be expanded so it could review Chinese acquisitions of U.S. media firms.
That kind of scrutiny is typically reserved for deals in sectors such as aerospace that are seen as potentially affecting national security.
The GAO this week said it would review the matter in roughly four months.
Mr. Culberson, the chairman of the House Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies—part of the Appropriations Committee—cited Mr. Wang’s close relationship with the Chinese government and Communist Party, saying the affiliation “has profound implications for American media.”
He asked the Justice Department to consider changes to the Foreign Agents Registration Act that would allow U.S. authorities to monitor Wanda’s acquisitions more closely.