Wanda Agrees to Build $9.5 Billion Culture Project in China

Billionaire Wang Jianlin’s Dalian Wanda Group Co. agreed to build a 63 billion yuan ($9.5 billion) culture-and-tourism project in northeastern China, in its latest effort to become an entertainment giant rivaling Walt Disney Co.

Wanda signed a framework agreement on Friday with the government in Jinan City, Shandong Province, in northern China, the group said in a statement. The project will include a cultural, sports and shopping complex, it said. The accord isn’t binding, according to a Wanda spokesman.

It’s Wang’s 13th such large-scale tourism project at home and builds on the tycoon’s ambitions to turn Wanda into a bigger tourism company than Disney by the end of the decade. Wang has been shifting Wanda’s focus toward the entertainment industry in recent years from its roots in real estate.

The Jinan project, which will span across 290 hectares, will include a 10,000-seat stadium for hockey and basketball, according to Wanda. Construction is scheduled to begin in 2017 and open in 2021, the company said.

The group’s entertainment business, called Wanda Cultural Industry Group, saw sales rise 57 percent to 29 billion yuan in the first half. The Chinese tycoon is also planning to open 15 Wanda City theme parks by 2020 in China as part of his entertainment push.

— With assistance by Prudence Ho, and Jeanne Yang

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