Dalian Wanda Sells Its London Towers

Updated on
  • Wang agrees to sell One Nine Elms hotel, homes development
  • Land on Thames is said to be going to China’s R&F Properties

The Nine Elms Square construction site in London on Aug. 22, 2017.

Photographer: Luke MacGregor/Bloomberg

Billionaire Wang Jianlin agreed to sell one of the largest luxury residential projects under development in London as his Dalian Wanda Group Co. continues to shed assets acquired in a spree that once made the founder China’s richest man.

Two of the company’s units sold their interests in the One Nine Elms project on the south bank of London’s River Thames for about 59 million pounds ($81.5 million), according to a filing late Tuesday in Hong Kong. Guangzhou R&F Properties Co., is the buyer, according to two people with knowledge of the matter who asked not to be identified discussing private information.

Construction at the Nine Elms Square in London in Aug. 2017.

Photographer: Luke MacGregor/Bloomberg

The sale of a project billed as worth 700 million pounds ($967 million) at completion adds to more than $9 billion worth of disposals over the past 12 months as the real estate-to-entertainment group responds to government pressure to pare debt and focus overseas investments on assets considered strategically important to China. Wang’s Wanda Hotel Development Co. said in November that it was doing a strategic review of its projects stretching from Sydney to Chicago and would consider opportunities that create value for shareholders.

Read more here on how China’s government is scrutinizing dealmakers.

Pressure has mounted on Wang to raise cash and cut debt after Fitch, Standard & Poor’s and Moody’s Investors Service cut the flagship property unit’s credit rating to junk over the past few months.

Wanda Hotel shares surged as much as 15 percent in Hong Kong trading and were trading at HK$1.40 each, up 5.3 percent, at 11:27 a.m. local time.

Wang Jianlin

Photographer: Jason Alden/Bloomberg

Under the One Nine Elms sale agreement, the purchaser will also assume a 159.5-million pound loan owed by Wanda Hotel, according to the statement. A representative for R&F declined to comment.

In July, R&F, one of China’s top 20 developers by contracted sales, agreed to pay about $3 billion for the 77 Wanda hotels in July, stepping in to ease financing for the conglomerate’s sale of the companies tourism and theme park projects to rival developer Sunac China Holdings Ltd.

In August, R&F and C C Land Holdings Ltd., the owner of London’s Cheesegrater tower, partnered to replace Wanda as the buyers of the adjacent 10-acre Nine Elms Square land. New home values have been slipping in the district as developers compete to sell apartments to overseas buyers.

Construction has begun on the plot, which has planning approval for an apartment tower of about 56 stories and a five-star hotel. The developer sought approval earlier this month to enlarge the hotel into space previously planned as offices, according to a filing to the borough.

Wanda paid 88.8 million pounds for the plot in 2013, a Land Registry filing shows.

— With assistance by Jack Sidders, Simon Lee, Jing Yang De Morel, Emma Dong, Neil Callanan, and Ross Larsen

(Updates with shares in fifth paragraph.)
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