China developer Greenland views e-sports as engine that will drive traffic to its malls and hotels

Sixth largest property company by sales – which plans to create country’s largest e-sports platform – has invested 60 million yuan in start-up

PUBLISHED : Monday, 08 January, 2018, 7:32am
UPDATED : Monday, 08 January, 2018, 3:03pm

Greenland Holdings, China’s sixth largest property developer by sales, wants to tap the rising popularity of e-sports to drive traffic and sales at its properties.

The Shanghai-based company wants to create the mainland’s largest business platform for e-sports in two to three years, and plans to build e-sport towns and stadiums in the country’s 10 largest cities.

“We envision an ecosystem of e-sports and it will become an important part of the group’s businesses,” said Geng Jing, a vice-president of Greenland and chairman of Greenland Financial. “E-sports attract people to visit shopping malls, and it is like a magnet to help gather people.”

The developer will begin work on its first e-sport stadium, which will have at least 30,000 seats, in Shanghai’s Qingpu district, before March. Greenland also plans to build e-sport “towns” and theme parks at its large mixed-use developments in cities that include Shanghai, Beijing, Wuhan and Chengdu, said Geng.

China video game craze drives booming e-sports market

The foray into e-sports represents a latest effort by Greenland to diversify beyond property as it pursues new growth engines. For the first half of 2017, its reported net profit stood at 4.66 billion yuan (US$718.35 million), up 1.3 per cent from a year earlier.

Greenland has a presence in more than 80 mainland cities, and most of its projects are either large-scale mix-use developments or skyscrapers. The e-sport towns will be built along its commercial properties, and will eventually drive up foot traffic at its shopping malls and occupancy at its hotels, said Geng.

On Friday, Greenland also invested 60 million yuan in Shanghai Pengta Network Technology for a 50 per cent stake, becoming the largest shareholder of the start-up, which focuses on the organisation of e-sport tournaments, live casts and training.

Ren Li, the chief executive of Pengta, said four e-sport towns are planned for China. “Building them [e-sport towns] involves creativity and we will help Greenland achieve its goal,” he said.

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Geng said Greenland will partner with other e-sport businesses, including internet giant Tencent, to organise events such as tournaments at its venues.

We envision an ecosystem of e-sports and it will become an important part of the group’s businesses
Geng Jing, vice-president of Greenland and chairman of Greenland Financial

Over the past two years, Greenland has announced plans to turn multimillion square metres at its commercial properties into incubators for technology start-ups, inaugurated its platform for cross-border e-commerce business, and set up a securities affiliate in Hong Kong, cutting its reliance on property development in the process.

Zhang Yuliang, the company’s chief executive, said the company will offer youngsters what they like to expand businesses.

An e-sports tournament could draw millions of online viewers on the mainland – consultancy iResearch estimates that China’s e-sports market could be 220 million strong. Other analysts forecast the country’s e-sports market is likely to top 280 million, and could represent 200 billion yuan in revenues in 2018.