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Analysts: Wanda on track to restructure business

By Hu Yuanyuan And Meng Jing | China Daily | Updated: 2016-08-03 07:37

Wanda Group Co shelved a $5.6 billion reorganization of its entertainment assets, but analysts on Tuesday said the company is still on the right track of restructuring its business to be an "asset-light" model.

Wanda Cinema Line Co said in a statement on Monday it had suspended a previously announced major asset restructuring, saying the plan was premature and that market conditions had changed.

In May, Wanda Cinema Line said it would buy Legendary Entertainment and Chinese film-making assets from the parent group for 37.2 billion yuan ($5.6 billion).

According to the latest statement, the deal would not be in the best interest of minority investors. For instance, Legendary needs more time to operate independently to prove its stable profitability.

"Although the company suspended restructuring at this stage ... its strategic direction of becoming a major entertainment platform and a holistic entertainment company will not change," said the statement.

Wanda Cinema Line shares fell 1.17 percent to close at 69.97 yuan in Shenzhen on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, a Monday media report from The Paper said that China's internet giants Baidu Inc and Tencent Holdings Ltd have broken with the alliance they formed with Wanda in 2014, which had the ambitious goal of jointly building up an e-commerce company that could do battle with Alibaba Group Holding Ltd.

The report cited anonymous sources as saying that neither of the two internet companies wanted to keep investing in a money pit after the joint venture burned a total investment of 5 billion yuan.

Lu Zhenwang, chief executive officer of the Shanghai-based Wanqing Consultancy, said it is extremely difficult for Wanda to pull this online-to-offline business off as the commercial real estate major needed to integrate all kinds of different merchants into one system.

Grant Ji, executive director of capital markets for northern China at CBRE Group, a US commercial real estate company, said Wanda was still on the right track of its strategic business restructuring despite the recent setbacks.

"It may take several years to implement the business transition and it is too early to say the restructuring has failed just because of the ups and downs of several deals," said Ji.

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