Shares of Wanda Hotel Development surged sharply in Hong Kong trading on Thursday, following word that the HK-listed division of China’s embattled Dalian Wanda Group would undergo what it termed “a major restructuring.” Wanda Hotel Development is to pay about $1B to acquire two businesses controlled by Wanda Chairman Wang Jianlin 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.
The moves come a month after Wanda said it was selling 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.
The newly-proposed transactions were outlined in a regulatory filing as a framework agreement between Wanda Hotel Development and Wang and his family’s Beijing Wanda Culture Industry Group and Dalian Wanda Commercial Properties. They include the acquisition of Wanda Travel from Wanda Culture for RMB 6.3B ($947M) in cash, shares and/or convertible bonds. Wanda Travel is principally engaged in theme park design, construction and operation management.
The restructure also will see the acquisition of Wanda Hotel Management from Dalian Wanda Commercial for RMB 750M ($113M). Wanda Hotel Management is principally engaged in hotel design, construction and operation management.
This overhaul is yet another in a series of rapid-fire shifts at the company that fancied itself a major Hollywood player with seemingly endless ambitions. Wang said late last month that Wanda was putting the brakes on Hollywood investments, and noted of the hotels and theme parks divestiture, “Wanda sold what should be sold and maintained what should be saved. The tourism assets that were sold always have slow investment return and greater capital pressure. The hotel projects are less profitable. What Wanda keeps are commercial property projects with better profitability.”
As part of the deals announced last night, Wanda Hotel will also sell its interests in real estate holding companies for projects in Guilin, China; London; Chicago; Sydney; and Gold Coast, Australia. Dalian Wanda Commercial will acquire those interests for an as-yet undetermined sum to be paid in cash.
Shares in Wanda Hotel had been halted at the company’s request on Wednesday. After resuming trading on Thursday, they rose by over 30% before closing at a 19% hike.