Stock conversion allowed China’s Wanda to sell AMC shares amid retail frenzy

FILE PHOTO: People walk outside an AMC theater on January 27, 2021 in the Manhattan Borough of New York City, New York, USA, amidst a coronovirus disease (COVID-19) epidemic. REVS / Carlo Allegri

SHANGHAI (Reuters) – China’s Wanda Group, the major shareholder in AMC Entertainment Holdings Ltd., conducted a share conversion to allow the sale of its stock in the cinema operator, a target of the recent WalcatBats retail frenzy, an exchange by AMC. Said in the filing.

Wanda Entity Entertainment Inc., a Wanda entity, converted its Class B common stock into AMC Class A shares on Feb. 1 “to allow the sale of its common stock,” AMC said in the United States Securities and Exchange Commission Said in the filing on 5 February.

The filing did not provide details on the amount of stock converted into Class A shares or whether Wanda had sold any shares in AMC. Wanda did not immediately return a request for comment.

Shares of AMC touched $ 17.25 on February 1, nearly quadrupling from a week earlier, as social media platforms such as Reddit bought heavily into short stocks such as AMC and Gametop.

Shares of AMC declined 41% the next day and the stock is now down nearly 60% from its February 1 peak.

The social media-fuel trading frenzy has cooled over the past few days as US media regulators scrutinized Gametop’s reddit-driven stock surge.

Wanda, whose business ranges from real estate to entertainment, bought a majority stake in AMC in 2012 for $ 2.6 billion, which was then the largest overseas acquisition by a privately held Chinese company.

In 2018, the once-acquiring Chinese conglomerate trimmed its exposure to the US cinema operator amid strict regulatory scrutiny by Beijing over overseas expansion of Chinese companies.

According to the group’s website, Wanda still holds a controlling stake in AMC. The website said that Wanda is also the owner of Hollywood producer Legendary Entertainment and Australian cinema series Hoyts Cinema.

Reporting by Samuel Shane and Brenda Goh; Editing by Richard Pullin