Dalian Wanda to build $14b zone in India

Besides the Indian venture, Mr Wang is building hospitals in China, buying an entertainment concern and setting up a financial group to reorganise his empire - all announcedthis month.
Besides the Indian venture, Mr Wang is building hospitals in China, buying an entertainment concern and setting up a financial group to reorganise his empire - all announcedthis month.PHOTO:BLOOMBERG

Deal with Haryana state part of 'gushing torrent' of Chinese overseas spending

BEIJING • Billionaire Wang Jianlin's Dalian Wanda Group is investing US$10 billion (S$14 billion) to build an industrial zone in India, in what could be one of the country's biggest development projects.

Wanda Group, China's biggest commercial property developer, signed a preliminary agreement with the northern Indian state of Haryana to build an industrial zone, the company said on its official WeChat account yesterday.

The first phase of the development zone spans 13 sq km and construction may begin this year.

While details of the spending were not immediately available, the proposed amount would rank it among the biggest such investments in India. The proposal also highlights the growing ambitions of a business tycoon who already boasts an estimated wealth exceeding anyone else's in Asia.

It has been a busy month for Mr Wang: Wanda Group earlier announced it will invest US$2.3 billion to build three hospitals in China. It has also agreed to buy "Godzilla" producer Legendary Entertainment for US$3.5 billion, and set up a financial group as part of a reorganisation of his empire.

Wanda is not the only Chinese company making headlines. Just last week, Haier Group said it will use its publicly-traded arm in Shanghai to acquire General Electric's home appliance business for US$5.4 billion, pushing outbound deals from China's listed companies to US$8.6 billion this year.

Shanghai-listed BTG Hotels last month announced a US$1.8 billion deal to acquire budget lodging chain Homeinns Hotel Group. BTG Hotels, backed by the Beijing city government, is seeking Chinese regulatory approval for a 3.9 billion yuan (S$840 million) equity offering to fund part of the purchase.

The deals are just drops in a gushing torrent of Chinese overseas spending. Foreign direct investment from China reached US$111 billion last year, by one estimate - 10 times more than a decade earlier.

The Chinese stock market rout this month has not slowed the volume of foreign acquisitions, which has already reached one-third of last year's record tally, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Pricey stocks leave ample room for Chinese companies to boost returns by buying more profitable assets overseas for less. With domestic firms valued at more than three times the level in the US, what was previously a select group of China's outbound acquirers is set to widen, helping the nation continue its record dealmaking run.

"Just like Chinese consumers who shop around the world, Chinese companies are looking overseas for nice bargains," said Mr Ken Chen, a Shanghai-based analyst at KGI Securities.

BLOOMBERG

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 23, 2016, with the headline 'Dalian Wanda to build $14b zone in India'. Print Edition | Subscribe