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Wang Jianlin

Chinese billionaire Wang Jianlin takes aim at the global credit card system, promising to become No 1

Wand

PUBLISHED : Monday, 18 January, 2016, 9:51pm
UPDATED : Monday, 18 January, 2016, 11:30pm

Wang Jianlin, China’s richest man, is turning his sites on the global credit and payment card system, saying he has plans to become a major player in the sector by 2020.

Wang, the chairman of Dalian Wanda Group, China's largest commercial property company, told the Asia Financial Forum in Hong Kong on Monday that he hopes to issue 500 million Feifan cards, a type of credit and payment card for Wanda merchants and customers, in the coming five years.

The billionaire, whose personal net worth is estimated at US$30 billion, much of it from building shopping malls across China, was whirled in and out of the Wan Chai venue like a rock star.

A special session dedicated to Wanda’s Internet finance development drew hundreds of bankers and other attendees – many crowding into the back of the hall standing throughout the one-hour session.

While he didn’t provide details to his IPO plans for his card payment system, Wang, 61, fielded a range of questions on the activities of Hong Kong-listed Wanda.

Asked about future acquisition plans, Wang said he will continue shopping around after the recent US$3.5 billion takeover of Legendary Entertainment. “People often said Wanda knows nothing but to buy, buy and buy,” said Wang. “So I just keep buying.”

When asked whether his plan of covering 700 to 800 million Chinese consumers with Wanda services will result in a monopoly, Wang replied that his monopoly, if there will be one, will be not as bad as other monopolies.

“Even if one day there is a monopoly, my monopoly as a result of market competition is still better than a monopoly imposed by the government, isn’t it?” he said.

Following his stage appearance, Wang was escorted by his entourage to a neighbouring main hall where he attended a panel discussion on China opportunities.

At this session in a even bigger room, Wang took the chance to express his take on what he described as “western views” on China.

When presented by a list of potential risks and challenges for China’s economy in 2016, including global economic crisis, a collapse of the property market and local government debt, Wang said that the questions as laid out were the work of “either a foreigner or a Hong Konger” who doesn’t really know China.

“The biggest challenge for China is how to stimulate consumption and boost domestic demand,” Wang said.

Wang continued on the subject of China’s property market: “The Western world has been talking about China property market collapse for twenty years, the Western world has been taking about China’s economic collapse for twenty years,” Wang said. “If you want to view China’s problems, you must view it from China’s standpoint, you can’t view it in a Hong Kong, US or Europe standpoint.”

Wang said negative views on China’s property market had little basis in reality.

“Many people just follow others’ views – they read some media reports and then quickly form their views. They should use their heads.”

Ronnie Chan, the chairman of Hang Lung Property Ltd and the panel chair, said in Chinese that he “felt myself not so dumb after listening to Wang” because he shared similar views to Wang.

Wang departed while the panel session was still going on, saying he had an important meeting to attend.

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