Not content with taking on Hollywood, China’s richest man is now headed to Surfers Paradise as Dalian Wanda prepares to invest up to $1.57 billion in Australian real estate projects, starting with a $1 billion beachfront hotel.
In an announcement to the Hong Kong Stock Exchange yesterday, Wang Jianlin’s Wanda Group revealed it would form Wanda Australia, with funding up to HK$12.5 billion ($1.57 billion) to pursue opportunities that it foresees after studying “the current real property market in Australia and expected acquisition and development costs for suitable real property projects.”
The plans for the Australian venture were announced just days after the property tycoon successfully bid $1.2 billion to acquire a residential site in the posh Beverly Hills section of Los Angeles, just down the road from Rodeo Drive.
Wanda’s announcement was not specific regarding the source of funding for its planned Australian projects, saying only that financing would come through the company’s internal resources, debt and/or equity channels.
Building a Jewel on Australia’s Gold Coast
The first objective for Wanda appears to be investing A$300 million ($278 million) to acquire 55 percent of a long-delayed beach development in Surfer’s Paradise on Australia’s Gold Coast.
The A$1 billion ($927 million) Jewel project has been stalled since 2011 as the original Chinese developer, the Ridong Group has searched for financing. That search officially came to an end yesterday when Hong Kong-listed Wanda Commercial Properties that, together with Wanda HK, announced that it would be entering into a joint venture to develop the 1.13 hectare beachfront site. Ridong owner Li Riyu will retain the remaining 45 percent of the project.
According to reports in the Australian press, plans for the Jewel announced in 2011 called for a hotel and apartment complex built around a triplet of towers of 45, 41 and 35 storeys. The project would include 939 bedrooms – including 298 six-star suites and apartments.
Just to make sure that everyone can find a swim at the beach front site, the complex, designed by US architect Chad Oppenheim event includes plans for nine swimming pools.
Construction is expected to start next year and finish in 2018.
One More Hotel for Wanda
By investing in this Australian project, Wang Jianlin appears to be following through on a pledge to launch more hotels internationally, as his Dalian Wanda group tries to build a global hotel chain.
Before Wang set Hollywood abuzz last week by acquiring the Beverly Hills site (which appears targetted for residential development) in July his Dalian Wanda group had acquired a $900 million project in Chicago which also includes a hotel.
At the time of his Chicago acquisition Wang made clear his international hospitality ambitions. “Within one year, Wanda will invest in five-star hotels in more US cities, including New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco,” Wang said in a statement on the occasion of the Chicago deal.
Before the Chicago project, Wang had already announced billion dollar hotel projects in New York and London, as well as acquiring a historic building in Madrid that is planned for renovation into a hotel.
In July, Wang predicted that by 2020 Wanda would build a global five-star hotel brand, with presences in 12 to 15 major cities. In China, Wang’s Wanda Group already owns 75 department stores, 85 shopping plazas and 51 five star hotels.