Wanda restructures Australian projects

Wanda restructures Australian projects
Wanda restructures Australian projects

A majority interest in the two flagship Australian developments of China's Wanda Group are to be sold to a private entity controlled by the company's founder, Wang Jianlin.

Just two days after Wanda labelled an Australian Financial Review report that is was considering a sale "completely false", the company announced the "disposal" on Thursday morning.

While the assets are being sold to a related private entity controlled by Mr Wang, one investment advisor said it was likely to be the first step in broader reorganisation of the assets.

"He [Mr Wang] has a history of taking a two-step approach to acquisitions so this looks like it's going in the opposite direction," said the person.

The announcement said the Hong Kong-listed Wanda Hotel Development will sell a 60 per cent interest in its $1 billion Circular Quay apartment and hotel tower in Sydney and its $900 million Jewel resort on the Gold Coast to Mr Wang's company, Wanda Commercial Property.

The deal should allow the Hong Kong-listed company to lower its debt levels and give Mr Wang time to reorganise the assets away from the glare of the public market.

Shares in Wanda Hotel rose as much as 41 per cent on Thursday after the asset restructuring plans were announced.

The listed vehicle is also selling its 60 per cent interest in Wanda's Chicago and London developments.

The final terms are yet to be announced, but the company said the sale price would be based on net asset values based on an independent valuation.

Wanda Hotel is also buying US$1.1 billion in assets from related entities to the group and Mr Wang. These include Wanda Culture Travel Innovation Group, which designs and constructs theme parks and Wanda Hotel Management, which designs and operates hotels.

Wanda has had its wings clipped by Beijing in recent weeks as concerns mount that it, and other private companies, have over paid for foreign assets and these now pose a systemic risk to the Chinese banking system.

Other companies targeted by authorities include the HNA Group, which holds a 13 per cent stake in airline Virgin Australia; Fosun Group, which is developing apartments in Brisbane and Sydney; and Anbang Insurance, which bought New York's Waldorf Astoria in 2014.

The crackdown is expected to filter down to smaller private companies and state-owned enterprises as Beijing worries about offshore deals going bad and capital outflows putting downward pressure on its currency.

It is also looking to avoid a Japan-style collapse, which followed an offshore acquisition binge by Japanese firms in the late 1980s and early 1990s.

China's outbound investment fell 43 per cent over the first half of this year and its Vice Minister for Commerce Qian Keming said last week that "irrational" offshore investment had been contained.

China Wanda Group

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