Wanda scraps $823m London land purchase

Apart from selling assets, Mr Wang Jianlin is also overhauling Dalian Wanda. Wanda Hotel Development said earlier this month that it will sell property assets to its real estate affiliate, while shares of the group's Wanda Film Holding unit have been
Apart from selling assets, Mr Wang Jianlin is also overhauling Dalian Wanda. Wanda Hotel Development said earlier this month that it will sell property assets to its real estate affiliate, while shares of the group's Wanda Film Holding unit have been suspended from trading since early last month, pending a restructuring of the company.PHOTO: REUTERS

Latest sign that Chinese conglomerate is downsizing as Beijing tightens rules on companies' foreign investments

SHANGHAI • Billionaire Wang Jianlin's Dalian Wanda Group has scrapped plans to buy a land plot in London for £470 million (S$823 million), amid the Chinese government's intensifying scrutiny of overseas investments.

Wanda's International Real Estate Centre is no longer in pursuit of the 4ha Nine Elms Square land, the Chinese company said in a statement yesterday.

On Monday, St Modwen Properties said its venture with Vinci sold the site, though it did not identify the buyer.

The move is the latest sign that Wanda's chairman and chief executive, Mr Wang, who was one of China's most prolific buyers of overseas assets until last year, is downsizing. Last month, the conglomerate agreed to sell most of its hotels and theme-park assets to Sunac China Holdings and Guangzhou R&F Properties for about US$9.5 billion (S$13 billion).

Big Chinese dealmakers such as Wanda, Anbang Insurance Group, Fosun International and HNA Group have been under increasing scrutiny this year as the Communist Party steps up its clampdown of capital outflows to protect the yuan from weakening further.

Last week, the government formally laid down new rules on overseas investments, making explicit its campaign against what it calls "irrational" acquisitions of assets in industries ranging from real estate to hotels to entertainment.

Wanda still owns the £700 million One Nine Elms twin-tower complex being developed on the south bank of the River Thames.

Wanda, which had been diversifying away from its property roots and into entertainment in recent years, has interests in hundreds of real estate properties in 65 markets, with an estimated property value of US$40 billion, according to Real Capital Analytics.

Apart from selling assets, Mr Wang is also overhauling his business empire.

Hong Kong-listed Wanda Hotel Development said earlier this month that it will sell property assets to its real estate affiliate, while shares of the group's Wanda Film Holding unit have been suspended from trading since early last month, pending a restructuring of the company.

Wanda is under pressure.

Last month, people familiar with the matter said the Chinese government ordered its banks to cut off funding for Wanda for several overseas projects found to have violated Chinese rules.

In the face of mounting scrutiny, Mr Wang told Caixin magazine last month that the group will change its business strategy and will now switch its investment focus to domestic markets.

Wanda plans to invest in a tourism project in the north-western Chinese city of Lanzhou in Gansu province, Gansu Daily reported this month.

BLOOMBERG

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 23, 2017, with the headline 'Wanda scraps $823m London land purchase'. Print Edition | Subscribe