Dalian Wanda Group, a closely held Chinese property developer, is in talks to invest in Sunseeker International Ltd. as the British luxury yacht maker seeks to expand into the world’s second-largest economy.
Dalian Wanda, controlled by billionaire Wang Jianlin, plans to take a stake in the yacht manufacturer and financial terms of the deal haven’t been finalized, Gordon Hui, chairman of Sunseeker Asia, said in a phone interview yesterday. A media officer at Dalian Wanda declined to comment on the talks.
“Dalian Wanda will bring investments into Sunseeker to help fund its expansion in China,” said the Hong Kong-based executive. Production at the Dorset-based yacht maker, whose vessels have featured in four James Bond movies, will remain in the U.K., according to Hui.
The increasing number of wealthy Chinese is drawing luxury companies to look for growth in the world’s most populous nation. The number of millionaires in China has climbed 4 percent from 12 months earlier to 2.8 million, according to the Hurun Research Institute’s findings this year.
Dalian Wanda, which last year bought U.S. cinema chain AMC Entertainment Holdings Inc. for $2.6 billion, is among Chinese companies seeking acquisitions overseas to gain foreign expertise, brands and technology. Shandong Heavy Industry Group-Weichai Group acquired Italian yacht builder Ferretti in 2012 and Zhejiang Geely Holding Group Co. bought Volvo Cars in 2010.
Dalian Wanda, based in Dalian in northeast China, is close to buying Sunseeker and is expected to pay about 300 million pounds ($467 million) for the company, the Financial Times reported, citing unidentified people.
Sunseeker sold about 190 boats in Asia, excluding Australia, in the past decade, with more than 60 percent of the purchases coming from China including Hong Kong, Hui said. A lowest-priced Portofino 40 cruiser costs about five million yuan ($815,000) and the most expensive model costs as much as 230 million yuan, he said.
Wang, whose businesses include hotels, cinemas and shopping malls, has a net worth of $7.7 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. The billionaire is among the luxury yacht maker’s customers in China, according to Hui.