Dalian Wanda sells majority stake to rival Sunac China for $9.3bn

Dalian Wanda to Sell $9.3 Billion in Hotels and Tourism Stakes

Wanda said it would sell 91 percent of 13 cultural tourism projects, that typically include theme parks and leisure complexes, as well as 76 hotels to the acquisitive Tianjin-based developer Sunac for a total of 63.18 billion yuan.

The developer had closed 6.9 percent lower on Friday.

Among the projects included in the deal were the Nanchang Wanda City, which the company opened previous year and that Wanda chairman Wang Jianlin had talked up as a competitor to Disneyland Shanghai. The CEO of Sunac, Sun Hongbin, said he's seeking ways to expand beyond property into areas from healthcare to finance. "Wanda Commercial plans to repay most of the bank loans this year", Wang told Caixin.

The CBRC had expressed concerns about the level of debt taken on by some of China's biggest groups, against a background of skyrocketing debt at corporate level.

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Sunac has emerged as the most acquisitive Chinese developer in the past 12 months and its property holdings have expanded rapidly, from four cities in 2011 to 44 previous year. Sunac's 15 acquisitions since the start of previous year included a deal with technology company Legend Holdings Corp. that spanned 42 property projects across 16 cities, including Beijing, Tianjin, Chongqing and Hangzhou, according to Bloomberg data.

"This (deal) signifies a retreat from Wanda's previous strategy in cultural tourism, and marks a pivot to an asset-light strategy", said Qin Gang, senior researcher at State Information Center, a government-linked thinktank. Wanda will use all proceeds from the deal to pay back loans, according to the report, which also cited an interview with Wanda's Wang.

It is thought that the deal will go towards reducing Wanda's commercial debt pile.

Shares in Wanda Hotel Development, the group's listed unit in Hong Kong, surged after the news and were trading 74 percent higher at HK$1.01 by early afternoon. Four years later, it snapped up Hollywood studio Legendary Entertainment for $3.5 billion.

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