China's Wanda Retreats from Theme Park Business With $9.3 Billion Deal

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The transaction was also seen aiding Wanda's case for a mainland listing after its property unit delisted from Hong Kong a year ago. Its billionaire owner Wang Jianlin had a year ago said his "wolf pack" of parks would beat USA rival Walt Disney Co.

Indeed, last December ratings agency Standard&Poor's downgraded the Wanda Commercial's bonds to just one notch above so-called "junk" status. "Wanda Commercial plans to repay most of the bank loans this year", Wang told Caixin.

Wanda, a commercial property developer that has diversified into entertainment, theme parks, and sports - partly as a buffer against Chinese real-estate volatility - was at the forefront of the overseas push, spending billions on a range of United States entertainment properties and other investments.

Last month, Wanda acknowledged that China's banking regulator had ordered an inspection of potentially risky loans to it and other major Chinese companies that have invested heavily overseas. "It's unclear if the sale of their tourism projects is good for them, especially since those tourism culture projects are Wanda's flagship ones". The proceeds would help fund Wang's broader ambitions to move away from his property roots to expand his entertainment empire, which now includes Hollywood producer Legendary Entertainment and AMC Entertainment Holdings Inc.

The 91 per cent stake in Wanda mega cultural and tourism projects, located across the country from the northern city of Harbin to Kunming in the south, will fetch 29.58 billion yuan.

Wanda is to control the construction and operation of the 13 cultural projects and the firms are to cooperate in a number of other areas, including films, the statement said. Shares in Wanda Hotel Development surged more than 150 percent after the news.

Sunac, whose shares in Hong Kong were suspended from trading ahead of what it said would be a "very substantial acquisition" announcement, declined to comment further.