Dalian Wanda Group, a Chinese real estate company controlled by billionaire Wang Jianlin, said in a statement today, June 19 that it had acquired a London site under plans to develop a soaring, 670-foot tower. The residential property on the South Bank of the Thames is set to become the tallest such building in Western Europe, according to the group’s announcement.
The Chinese company’s property investment would total £700 million and create a 62-story building scraping the sky above Nine Elms in Wandsworth. The site, covering 1.1 million square feet, and with views of the River Thames, Westminster Palace and Battersea Power Station, will include a 160-room hotel, which had already received planning consent, as well as 678,000 square feet of upscale apartment space.
The Wanda Hotel will be the first in the upmarket Chinese hotel chain to open outside of China itself and represents the first footprint in a massive planned expansion around the world. Wang Jianlin, the chairman of Dalian Wanda, told a press conference today that he was confident that his company would lead the way bringing branded Chinese luxury hotels to the global market “where they have long been absent”.
“The London property market has excellent investment opportunities and we have confidence that Wanda’s strength and expertise will make the Wanda London’s premier hotel, further promoting development in the area,” Wang added, as quoted by The Times today.
Another Chinese property developer, which has recognised London’s property investment appeal — ABP Holdings Group — last month signed an agreement with London officials to transform the 35-acre site at Royal Albert Dock into the capital’s third business district after the City of London and Canary Wharf (Chinese Developer to Turn London Docks Site into Asian Business Port). Subsequently, the company has announced that its project’s value on completion is expected to be double the building costs involved (London’s Future Asian Business Port Valued at Twice Building Costs).
**Wanda Eyes Expansion into “Luxury Lifestyle” Industry**
The ambitious property purchase in London makes Dalian Wanda Group one of the largest direct investors in Britain. The company’s announcement of the £700 million property investment deal also came with confirmation of earlier reports that it would pay £320 million for a 92 percent stake in Sunseeker International – the British luxury yacht-maker whose craft have featured in James Bond films.
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Under repeated questioning over the reasons behind the Sunseeker deal, Wanda, which last year paid $2.6 billion for AMC Entertainment, an American operator of cinema chains, pointed to its strategic expansion from a pure property company to an entertainment and “luxury lifestyle” conglomerate – a transformation designed to exploit the tastes of China’s growing middle class and the country’s continuing rise in the number of millionaires. According to the Hurun Research Institute’s findings this year, the number of millionaires in China has climbed four percent from 12 months earlier to 2.8 million.