Wanda Chairman Wang Jianlin has set his sights on becoming the No. 1 media mogul in the world and he needs US properties to do it, but could he be heading for legal snags, Amy He reports from New York.
He's the richest man in China and hasn't been shy about his ambitions to be a global entertainment mogul. He plans to open 15 theme parks across China and wants to "smash" park competitor Disney. He's already acquired one Hollywood studio and says he wants to buy one of the "Big Six". And he owns the second-largest movie chain in the US.
"Considering my personality and how the company has been executing my plans, I think we will be No. 1 in the world in real estate, entertainment, tourism and sports," he recently told CNN.
But for Wang Jianlin, chairman of Dalian Wanda Group, those US investments are drawing the attention of members of Congress concerned about foreign acquisitions. And some industry observers in Hollywood say he may be going too far.
"We're starting to get to a tipping point because you're starting to see politicians involved," said Marc Ganis, co-founder of Jiaflix, an American distributor of films in China. "I admire Wanda and I think there's a broader strategy here that will become more apparent that Wang is working on."
The alert came from 16 US lawmakers in a letter dated Sept 15 to the US Government Accountability Office (GAO), expressing concern over foreign acquisitions in "strategically important" sectors in the US. They cited Wanda's purchase of American movie studio Legendary Entertainment for $3.5 billion and its earlier purchase of AMC Theaters in 2012.
"Both of these examples raise serious security questions about what authority CFIUS [Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States] currently has, or may need to be added, to address these concerns," said the letter signed by 14 Republicans and two Democrats.