While everyone else is arguing about whether to invest in a slowing Chinese economy, the richest man in China is looking for real estate in the U.S. and Europe. Wang Jianlin’s Dalian Wanda Group is interested in entertainment, hotel, and commercial retail deals, reports Laurie Burkitt for The Wall Street Journal.
China Dalian Wanda Group’s investments
The Dalian Wanda Group is already heavily invested in the entertainment industry. It bought the U.S. cinema chain AMC Entertainment Holdings in 2012 for $2.6 billion and helped produce Man of Tai Chi, Keanu Reeve’s directorial debut, among others. Wang is also courting actors like Dustin Hoffman to kick-off the Chinese equivalent of the Academy Awards.
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Although the acquisition of AMC Entertainment was met with skepticism due to falling attendance, it’s in line with the company’s Chinese portfolio, which includes 38 five-star hotels, more than 100 shopping centers and department stores, and more than 6,000 movie screens. “There are many good investment opportunities in the U.S. and in Europe that make sense for the company,” said Wang, who seems to have decided that entering a new market is challenge enough with trying to enter a new industry at the same time.
China’s wealthiest man
Wang’s fortune is worth somewhere between $14 billion and $22 billion, and he recently became China’s wealthiest man after he found a way to list on the Hong Kong stock market by proxy. Since Dalian Wanda Group can’t list directly on the exchange, it bought a majority share of Hengli Commercial Properties, which is listed, and changed its name to Wanda Commercial Properties. Anyone who buys stock in Wanda Commercial Properties is effectively exposed to the Dalian Wanda Group, and share prices have surged as investors practically lined up to do so.
Wang’s company is named after the city of Dalian where it was formed and where discredited Chinese Communist Party official Bo Xilai was mayor from 1993 to 2001. Bo was tried for corruption last month, and while the verdict is still pending, there is almost no question that he will be found guilty. Asked how Bo’s trial would affect his company, Wang said that he “pursued the market, not people.”