Wanda Group eyes ‘restructuring’ of hotel unit a day after it denies selling Australian assets

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 09 August, 2017, 8:44pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 09 August, 2017, 10:55pm

Wanda Hotel Development requested a suspension of trading in its shares on the Hong Kong stock exchange on Wednesday morning, saying the move was pending the release of a possible asset restructuring.

The company said in a filing to the exchange that the suspension was made “pending the release of an announcement containing inside information of the company that a letter of intent was signed concerning a possible asset restructuring that involves a connected person of the company”.

The company, a Hong Kong listed unit of Chinese conglomerate Dalian Wanda Group, has come under the spotlight after reports that the group was in talks with a buyer to sell two of its Australian projects, including the A$1 billion (US$792 million) Circular Quay apartment and hotel tower in Sydney, as well as its A$900 million Jewel resort on the Gold Coast, according to the Australian Financial Review.

The company issued a statement on Tuesday that flatly denied the report, saying those projects are “progressing well.”

Shares of the company closed at HK$1.16 on Tuesday, rising more than 9 per cent after the company denial statement.

Wanda says its US$1.5b Australia projects ‘progressing well’, flatly denying reports they are up for sale

Kingston Lin King-ham, a director at AMTD securities brokerage, said Wanda Group has a very high gearing ratio so the reason for the trading halt might have been that it is looking to sell some of its overseas assets to repay debt.

“The group is already selling some of its properties to repay the debt so the move is not that surprising,” he said.

The asset sales are the latest in a broader reorganisation of Dalian Wanda, one of China’s most acquisitive firms which has come under the scrutiny of Chinese authorities recently.

The conglomerate last month announced the sale of the majority of its domestic hotel and theme park assets for US$9.4 billion in order to raise funds to repay loans.

Separately, the group’s Wanda Film Holding Co unit has been suspended from trading since early July, pending a restructuring of the company, signs that Wang Jianlin, the tycoon who controls Dalian Wanda Group, is expanding the overhaul of his self-made empire.