Wang Jianlin

China’s Guangzhou R&F emerges as buyer of Dalian Wanda’s London hotel and residential project

R&F has close ties to Wang Jianlin’s conglomerate, having previously bought hotels from it as Wanda restructures under pressure from Chinese authorities

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 17 January, 2018, 2:31pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 17 January, 2018, 2:31pm

Chinese developer Guangzhou R&F Properties was the buyer of conglomerate Dalian Wanda Group’s hotel and residential project under construction in London, according to people familiar with the matter.

Wanda Hotel Development said in a stock exchange filing in Hong Kong late on Tuesday that it would sell a 60 per cent stake in Wanda International Real Estate Investment, which was set up to invest in the Nine Elms project in southwest London, for £35.6 million (US$49.1 million) to an unnamed buyer.

The remaining 40 per cent, held by Wanda HK, the parent of Wanda Hotel, would also be sold, the filing said, without giving details.

Wanda Hotel Development would make a gain of about HK$434 million (US$55.5 million) from the sale, it said. The buyer has also agreed to repay total debt of about HK$1.68 billion.

Shares in Guangzhou R&F fell as much as 3.5 per cent in Hong Kong in Wednesday’s morning session, while Wanda Hotel Development, the conglomerate’s Hong Kong-listed unit, rose as much as 9.4 per cent before ending the session up 5.3 per cent at HK$1.40.

Links between Guangzhou R&F and Wanda go back some way due to the personal ties between R&F’s chairman, Li Sze-lim, and Wanda founder Wang Jianlin, whom Li once described as a “long-time friend”.

Wanda drops £470 million London purchase after state instructions on acquisitions

Guangzhou R&F bought 77 hotels from Wanda for 19.9 billion yuan (US$3 billion) last July, as part of Wanda’s restructuring after it came under pressure from Chinese authorities in a crackdown on companies’ rapid buying of overseas assets.

Then in August, Guangzhou R&F joined Hong Kong developer CC Land Holdings to take over from Wanda as buyers of a plot of land adjacent to the Nine Elms project.

Overseas business accounts for less than 10 per cent of Guangzhou R&F’s total business, although it has been active in London, snapping up the Nestle Tower in the city’s south early last year for around £60 million and Vauxhall Square for £157.8 million.

Nine Elms is not the only acquisition dropped from Wanda’s overseas shopping list. The company also abandoned its bid to develop the 197-hectare (487 acre) Bandar Malaysia site, the largest real estate development in the country’s capital, Kuala Lumpur.