A Wanda department store in Wuhan. The company wants to have 1,000 shopping malls by 2025. Photo: Reuters

New | China's Dalian Wanda goes online to tap investor funds for new malls

Dalian Wanda Group, China's largest commercial property developer, plans to raise funds from investors online this week to help finance its new shopping malls, the latest developer tapping an emerging trend amid a sluggish property market.

Wanda, in a statement on Sunday, did not disclose how much it was targeting to raise in its first crowdfunding initiative to be launched on Friday, but a company official said it would be "at least several billion yuan".

The crowdfunding product was expected to give investors about 12 per cent annualised returns, with 6 per cent each from property income and appreciation, the statement said. The investment threshold for the product is only 1,000 yuan (HK$1,264).

Some other developers in China have already tapped internet financing. Greenland Hong Kong Holdings, a subsidiary of China's second-largest developer, the state-backed Greenland Group, said in March it had set up an online platform that connects property developers and investors with financing and investment opportunities.

Smaller peer Beijing-based Modern Land has raised more than 45 million yuan this year from six crowdfunding campaigns.

The increasing use of internet financing, however, poses a dilemma for regulators, who want to make it easier for entrepreneurs to access funding but are wary of these unregulated credit pools.

Wanda chairman Wang Jianlin has said the company will follow an "asset-light" strategy for its growth, seeking outside investment to finance the plazas and selling them off after five or seven years.

Wanda, the holding company of Dalian Wanda Commercial Properties, said in April it aimed to have 1,000 shopping malls open by 2025, a ninefold jump from the end of last year, as it bets on growth in consumer activity, especially in lower-tier cities.

After climbing at double-digit rates through most of the prior years, home prices in China started cooling in late 2013 until recently. Data last month showed home sales measured by floor area rebounded 7.7 per cent in April from a year ago, the first growth since November 2013.

This article appeared in the South China Morning Post print edition as: Wanda goes online to tap investor funds for malls