Wanda Considers Deeper Health-Care Push With Hospitals in China

  • Chinese pursuing healthier lifestyles, billionaire Wang says
  • Change of policy bolsters growth of health-care sector

Wang Jianlin, billionaire and chairman and president of Dalian Wanda Group Co., center, speaks to the media between sessions during the World Economic Forum (WEF) on the opening day of the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Switzerland, on Tuesday, Jan. 17, 2017. World leaders, influential executives, bankers and policy makers attend the 47th annual meeting of the World Economic Forum in Davos from Jan. 17 - 20. Photographer: Jason Alden/Bloomberg

Billionaire Wang Jianlin’s property-to-entertainment conglomerate is weighing a push into private health care in China, tapping into a rapidly growing multi-billion dollar industry in the country.

The chairman of Dalian Wanda Group Co. is considering setting up a chain of hospitals, he told Bloomberg News Editor-in-Chief John Micklethwait Wednesday during a panel at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.

The comments suggest Wang may dive deeper into health care than the partnership his company announced with International Hospitals Group last year, when Wanda said it would invest 15 billion yuan ($2.2 billion) to build three hospitals. The number of private hospitals in China surpassed that of public ones for the first time last year, providing an opportunity for Wanda to leverage the commercial properties it already owns.

Wang said people in China are pursuing healthier lives and Wanda has the capability to tap into the emerging private health-care industry. "Our biggest advantage is owning a chain of hundreds of commercial complexes, which means our team has the capability," Wang said.

Billionaire Wang Jianlin: Davos Panel

Wang said a change of Chinese policies have allowed private enterprises to enter the health-care sector. The government aims to expand the health-services industry to more than 8 trillion yuan by 2020. Revenue from China’s private hospital industry will probably triple to $90 billion by 2019, according to estimates by market research firm Frost & Sullivan.

China has encouraged private investment since at least 2009 to complement its overcrowded public system, and in recent years the government has provided more concrete policy support such as freeing up doctors from public-hospital jobs, and treating private and public outfits equally in terms of licensing, insurance coverage and academic research. 

Digital Access

Wang also highlighted his online-to-offline business -- called FFan -- which brings digital access to brick-and-mortar merchants. Unlike the current e-commerce businesses that thrive as traditional retailing declines, FFan will let traditional merchandisers grow after linking them with the internet, he said.
Wanda had 150 million active members and signed partnerships with almost 1,800 large commercial centers, and many other small merchants, movie theaters, hospitals and hotels, according to a statement from the company. Wang said he expects the business will make profit next year.

— With assistance by Hui Li, Prudence Ho, and Jeanne Yang

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