China’s rich­est man lays out his plans for Europe, UK

The Pak Banker - - BUSINESS -

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.

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