Wanda shares dive on talk of travel ban for chairman

SHANGHAI • Shares in the hotel chain of Chinese conglomerate Wanda plunged in Hong Kong to close 8.09 per cent lower yesterday, despite the firm dismissing as false reports that chairman Wang Jianlin had been barred from leaving the country.

Wanda and other Chinese conglomerates that made a succession of multibillion-dollar overseas investments in recent years have been under official scrutiny for months as Beijing clamps down on capital flight and skyrocketing debt.

The obscure website Bowen Press reported on Sunday that Mr Wang, one of China's richest men, and his family were stopped at Tianjin airport last Friday as they sought to fly to London. It said they were released after several hours but that Mr Wang was told he could not leave China.

The Hong Kong-listed shares of Wanda Hotel Development dropped nearly 10 per cent early yesterday. Wanda Group released a statement on the same day saying that Mr Wang had been the victim of "vicious rumours" about supposed restrictions placed on his movements.

"Wanda Group strongly reiterates that all of these rumours are utterly baseless and have ulterior motives behind them," it added.

But the firm's shares dipped again in the afternoon, closing at HK$1.59 as Wanda's denial apparently failed to completely allay investor concerns about the government crackdown on the conglomerate.

Recent reports have said China plans to squeeze Wanda by cutting off new loans and regulatory approvals for deals, punishing it for breaching Chinese restrictions on overseas investments.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 29, 2017, with the headline 'Wanda shares dive on talk of travel ban for chairman'. Print Edition | Subscribe