Dalian Wanda plans IPO for Internet finance unit

Billionaire Wang Jianlin, chairman and president of Dalian Wanda Group Co., at the Hong Kong Asian Financial Forum in Hong Kong, China, on Jan 18, 2016.
Billionaire Wang Jianlin, chairman and president of Dalian Wanda Group Co., at the Hong Kong Asian Financial Forum in Hong Kong, China, on Jan 18, 2016.PHOTO: BLOOMBERG

HONG KONG • Chinese conglomerate Dalian Wanda Group is planning an initial public offering (IPO) for its Internet finance business, betting on booming growth as it leverages the millions of customers packing its shopping malls, chairman Wang Jianlin said yesterday.

The plan is part of a broader goal to capitalise other units, including its film, tourism and sports businesses, via stock listings, Mr Wang, China's richest man, said at the Asia Financial Forum. He gave no timeline for any IPOs.

The company also sees more risk investing in China's largest cities, so-called tier 1 cities, because of high land costs, and will continue to focus on third-tier cities, Mr Wang said.

Dalian Wanda Group, the property-to-entertainment conglomerate, is also planning five "substantial" acquisitions this year as the company braces for a drop in sales. Wanda is aiming to complete three overseas purchases and two domestic ones, excluding cinema chains, it said in an e-mail.

Separately, Wanda forecasts that sales will fall 12 per cent this year as slumping revenue from its main real estate business overshadows gains from the burgeoning entertainment operations, the first time it is seeing a drop since at least 2009, when the firm started disclosing annual targets.

Mr Wang is increasingly looking towards entertainment to account for a greater slice of his business empire as China's slowing economy ripples through his other businesses.

Last week, Wanda announced it will buy Legendary Entertainment, the United States-based producer of Godzilla, for US$3.5 billion (S$5 billion) in cash, paving the way for Mr Wang to become the first Chinese person to control a Hollywood film company.

Legendary will join Mr Wang's growing global entertainment portfolio that already includes the likes of US theatre chain AMC Entertainment Holdings, Infront Sports & Media, and a stake in Spain's Club Atletico de Madrid football team.

In a November interview with Caixin media, Mr Wang said that his firm is diversifying as it is "risky" to rely solely on property investments, adding that it is a sector where long-term and stable capital flows cannot be maintained.

REUTERS, BLOOMBERG

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 19, 2016, with the headline 'Dalian Wanda plans IPO for Internet finance unit'. Print Edition | Subscribe