Embattled Dalian Wanda Group has found itself today vehemently dismissing rumors that its chairman, Wang Jianlin, has been prevented from leaving China. A Chinese-language website based in the U.S. had reported over the weekend that Wang was stopped with his family en route to London. On Monday, shares of the company’s Hong Kong listed Wanda Hotel Development dropped as much as 11%, gaining back some ground to a 4.6% loss around midday, Reuters reports. Dalian Wanda bonds also bounced back after a statement from the company.
On its website, Wanda said, “Certain individuals with ulterior motives have recently created and spread various vicious rumors regarding the Chairman of Wanda Group, Mr. Wang Jianlin. These rumors first appeared in mid-August, but were proven completely unfounded after Mr. Wang traveled to Lanzhou, Gansu province for a business trip. Unfortunately, it appears that some people have once again been peddling the same rumors. Yesterday, Boxun, a Chinese language media outlet based overseas, exaggerated the rumor even further and continued to spread vicious gossip.”
Wanda has been in the headlines for the past few months over various restructurings and amid a crackdown by the PROC on outward investment. In August, Wanda said its Wanda Hotel Development was to pay about $1B to acquire two businesses controlled by Wang and his family, while also disposing of offshore properties. The transactions will result in Wanda Hotel Development becoming “a strategic platform… focusing on theme park and hotel operation and management,” the parent company said at the time.
That followed Wanda’s move to sell the majority of its hotels and theme parks to pay back loans and create an “asset-light” operation. Wanda said at the time that it would continue to manage and operate the projects under its brand, less costly options than development. Wang has been under pressure to pare the debt Wanda amassed over the past few years of aggressive expansion as it acquired such assets as AMC and Legendary.
Today, Wanda also threatened legal action against the perpetrators of the rumors. “Wanda Group strongly reiterates that all of these rumors are utterly baseless and have ulterior motives behind them. Wanda Group encourages the public not to believe the rumors or spread them further. We have reported the situation to relevant government department and also reported the case to public security authorities. Wanda Group is determined to protect its rights with legal actions and pursue legal actions against the relevant media.”