Wanda deal boosts Sunac China's stock price

Posted July 12, 2017

Dalian Wanda Group said it would sell Chinese tourism projects and hotels to Sunac China for a total of 63.18 billion yuan (S$12.8 billion), marking a step back for the property giant from its theme park ambitions.

The surprise sale gives Wanda possible revenue to pay down debt that has soared during an aggressive expansion into entertainment, tourism and other consumer businesses.

Wanda Owner Wang Jianlin is the second richest man in China, behind Alibaba founder Jack Ma.

Beijing began past year to roll out restrictions to curb overseas capital flight, which analysts said raises funding costs for companies like Wanda because lending to them is now viewed as more risky.

The Sunac deal is even more surprising given that Wang had pinned hopes for his company's diversification from property development on the Wanda Cities projects.

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

But Beijing began previous year to roll out measures to stanch the flood of cash overseas, fearing capital flight, a weakening currency and expressing concerns over "irrational" investments.

"Through this asset transfer, Wanda Commercial's debt ratio will be greatly reduced, and all the proceeds will be used to repay loans". There have been no signs - yet - that Wanda intends to retreat from its significant investments in movie theaters and Hollywood production companies.

Sunac's shares surged 13.65 percent, their biggest one-day gain in more than two-and-a-half years, on Tuesday.

An asset manager with a state-owned bad asset management company, who declined to be identified, said Wanda may have reached an agreement with Sunac to take over the troubled Leshi, which Sunac bought for US$2.2 billion in January.

Trading in Sunac China shares had been suspended on the Hong Kong stock market following the company's announcement on Monday morning that it was considering an important acquisition-related information disclosure.

It controls the AMC cinema chain, as well as Legendary Entertainment, co-producer of hit films including Godzilla and The Dark Knight Rises.