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China's Wanda In Talks To Buy US Hotels

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China's privately-owned Dalian Wanda Group is in talks with "well-known" hotel chains for acquisition opportunities in the United States, its chairman said on Monday.

Wanda, the world's largest movie theatre owner, which also has interests in real estate, tourism and department stores, bought US-based movie theatre chain AMC Entertainment for USD$2.6 billion in September in one of China's biggest overseas entertainment investments, and an example of how Beijing is expanding its 'soft power' abroad.

The company will invest USD$10 billion in the United States over the next decade and is in talks with hotel brands for acquisitions, Wang Jianlin, Wanda's chairman, said in an interview.

"We are in discussions with hotel management companies in the United States and are seeking opportunities for mergers and acquisitions; and we are in negotiations with the city governments of Washington DC, New York City and other American cities for the construction of hotels, department stores and commercial properties," Wang said.

After completing the AMC buy, a studio executive said Wanda was nearing an agreement with Fox film studios to co-produce films in China.

Wang said he would be working with 3-4 of the top six movie studios in the United States on deals to co-finance and co-produce movies. Though a cinema mogul, Wang says he does not watch movies often.

As China's third-richest man, according to Forbes, Wang faced little backlash over his AMC acquisition, but other Chinese companies have hit a brick wall of opposition when trying to buy foreign assets. Telecoms equipment makers Huawei Technologies and ZTE were cited in October by a US congressional report as being a potential security threat.

(Reuters)