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August 23, 2017

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Wanda exits plan for London site

CHINESE conglomerate Dalian Wanda said yesterday it was abandoning plans to buy a 470 million pound (US$606 million) plot of land in London.

A spokesman for Wanda, controlled by one of China’s richest men Wang Jianlin, confirmed its affiliate, International Real Estate Center, would no longer purchase the four-hectare Nine Elms Square site but did not give more details.

Britain’s St. Modwen Properties said in June that it had reached a deal with its French partner, Vinci, and Wanda for the sale.

St. Modwen Properties issued a statement on Monday saying its joint venture with Vinci had “successfully completed” the sale, but the communique did not name the buyer.

Wanda, a massive group whose holdings range from commercial property to entertainment, sports and theme parks, is among a slew of companies under pressure from Beijing to put the brakes on debt-fueled overseas investments.

The government laid out new rules on Friday to restrict foreign investments in sports clubs, real estate and entertainment.

Beijing had encouraged such foreign ventures in previous years but the government now worries about growing debt loads that could endanger the economy.

In July Sunac China Holdings said it would buy 76 hotels and a 91 percent stake in 13 other “cultural and tourism projects” from Dalian Wanda Group in a huge deal valued at 63.2 billion yuan (US$9.3 billion).

But in joint statement a week later, the companies said another firm, R&F Properties, would instead buy 77 hotels for 19.9 billion yuan.

Sunac will now only buy a majority stake in the 13 cultural assets, and for a price of 43.8 billion yuan — up from 29.58 billion yuan quoted last week.

It was reported in July that authorities plan to squeeze Wanda by cutting off new loans and regulatory approvals for deals, in a punishment for breaching curbs on overseas investments.

The regulatory retaliation represents a major setback for the company that was among the most aggressive players in a flood of acquisitions around the world by Chinese companies.


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