China’s richest man lays out his plans for Europe, UK
Wang Jianlin, chairman of Dalian Wanda Group and the richest man in China, said his organization is hoping to set up its European headquarters in the UK and outlined plans for investment in Europe.
He said he was currently negotiating a large project, which would generate about 10,000 jobs, although he wouldn't say where or give any further details. Wang also said Dalian Wanda would be making a major announcement of a large project in Europe, although again he wouldn't give any details. Wang said it was his personal judgment that Britain will not leave the European Union after a referendum on continued membership on June 23.
He told an audience
of mainly Chinese business students at the Said Business School, part of Oxford University, that he didn't believe it would happen. "I don't think Britain will leave. That is my judgment. The UK has always been part of Europe, and it cannot live by itself. Don't listen to politicians - it is easy to exit, much more difficult to re-enter," Wang said during a half hour discourse.
"It would be difficult for Chinese visitors. It would affect the UK economy. So Britain will not leave. That is my personal judgment," he added. Dalian Wanda Group has invested 1.2 billion pounds in the UK, building a hotel and residences on a site in London on the south bank of the River Thames, not far from the gleaming glass building the houses of MI5, Britain's intelligence service.
He also acquired Sunseeker, a UK- based luxury yachtmaker, and his company now employs 1,200 people across the UK. "Soon we will be employing 3,000 people here," Wang said. He said he was currently negotiating a large retail project. Dalian Wanda is China's largest property developer, with much of its early investment made in shopping malls and retail parks, and now generates about 40 billion dollars in revenue globally each year.
He characterized the US and the UK as being important. "The US is the biggest market, but the UK is a freer market. Here you have no approvals procedure, but the US has many approval procedures, and they can take back your license at any time over 50 years," he said. "The UK has a good legal framework," Wang added.
Dalian Wanda has now become a multi-industry enterprise, with three main divisions - property, finance and culture. Last year Dalian Wanda became the biggest cinema chain operator in the world, when it acquired AMC Entertainment, a US-based movie theatre chain, as well as buying Swiss-based Infront Sports and Media, a sports marketing company, for $1.2 billion. It also announced in January it would be paying $3.5 billion to acquire Hollywood studio Legendary Entertainment.
On the finance side, Wang said Wanda Finance operated a fund for startups, and his advice to his audience was not to seek too much funding, "because then you wouldn't be a startup." Asked if he had any worries about the slowing down of China's economy, he said the country was going through the challenge of an economic transformation.