Wanda Group to Sell Amusement Park Business for over $9 Billion: Report

Despite declaring war on Disney in China, the property and entertainment giant is giving up that fight on the amusement park front.

Property developer Sunac China Holdings Ltd. will pay RMB 63.2 billion (US$9.3 billion) for Dalian Wanda Group hotels and amusement parks, in a move that can only be seen as Wanda retreating from a fight it picked with Disney over the theme park business in China.

The purchase is actually two separate deals: one for 76 hotels owned by Wanda, and another for 91 percent of  13 culture and tourism projects that Wanda owns. The deal is expected to be signed by the end of the month, Bloomberg reported.

Whereas a year ago it was Wanda and its CEO Wang Jianlin, who also happens to be China’s richest man, that was seen as the aggressive acquisitor, Wanda’s failure to close on a $1 billion deal for Dick Clark Productions earlier this year has put it on the back foot so far in 2017. Wang openly challenged Disney with the opening of a theme park in Nanchang, Jiangxi province in May 2016, but was criticized for using characters eerily similar to those owned by Disney and Marvel.

Shanghai Disney Resort opened in June 2016 and drew 1 million visitors per month for its first four months. Disney chief Bob Iger has stated that the park will break even this year — not bad for a project that cost US$5.5 billion.

Sunac China is listed on the Stock Exchange of Hong Kong. In the last 12 months, it has spent or invested $12 billion in various projects. The company is headed by founder and CEO Sun Hongbin.