In perhaps the clearest sign yet of Dalian Wanda’s chastened ambitions, group chairman Wang Jianlin has pledged to focus on investing locally in response to the Chinese government’s call for economic caution and its concerns over capital flight.
Wang said that Wanda, which has aggressively pursued offshore deals and acquisitions, “has decided to keep its main investment within China.”
“The big picture is the state policy and macroeconomic environment. Companies have to follow the trend of the national economic development,” Wang told Chinese financial journal Caixin.
Wang’s statement came after Wanda’s agreement earlier this month to sell its 13 theme parks to fellow developer Sunac China for RMB 43.84 billion and 77 hotels to Guangzhou-based R&F Properties for RMB 19.91 billion. Reports have also surfaced that Chinese regulators have banned the country’s banks from lending money to Wanda to finance six of its big-ticket foreign deals, including last year’s $3.5 billion purchase of Legendary Entertainment.
Wanda, whose portfolio stretches from real estate to entertainment, has been one of China’s biggest foreign deal-makers, investing around $20 billion abroad including the purchase of Legendary, AMC Entertainment Holdings, Odeon & UCI Cinemas, and a British luxury yacht maker.
But Chinese authorities have recently tightened control over foreign investment amid mounting concern over capital flight, and warned against excessive borrowing. Wanda has apparently become a prime target for regulators intent on showing that the government is serious about reining in big, splashy overseas deals.
Wang said Wanda’s sales of “less profitable” projects would make the group “asset light” as well as help reduce “leverage and debt burden.” He said hotel and tourism projects were less profitable and slow in return compared to commercial property projects.
“Wanda sold what should be sold and maintained what should be saved,” said Wang.