Business / CEO Roundtable

Looking beyond the realms of realty

(China Daily) Updated: 2015-05-29 07:45

On soccer

Many people came to know Wanda Group in the 1990s through a soccer team sponsored by it. As a small company then, why did Wanda Group choose to invest in soccer?

It was basically because I love soccer and I am an avid fan of the game.

You withdrew your investment from the Dalian soccer team later. But you invested in Spanish Atletico de Madrid recently. What has soccer brought to you all these years?

Excitement, pleasure and even distress. The pleasure of winning a contest was balanced by the distress of losing a match.

While some tycoons including Xu Jiayin, chairman of Evergrande Real Estate Co and Jack Ma, founder and executive chairman of Alibaba Group Holding Ltd, invested in domestic soccer clubs, what made you decide to invest in a foreign soccer club?

I do not rule out the possibility of investing in a domestic club in the future. One thing is clear, that is I do not invest in a soccer club for my own interest.

If not for yourself, then what is it that motivates you?

If you look at the Chinese soccer teams, you will find that the club teams perform much better than the national team. We must start with the teenagers if we want to build a stronger national team. It is not easy for my appeal to become a common view, as it takes seven to eight years to prove I am correct.

So what kind of changes do you expect from your efforts?

I hope my efforts will enable more people to realize the importance of training teenagers, instead of focusing on the soccer league and the national soccer team. I believe China will become a top-notch soccer country when teenagers playing the game reach 2 to 3 million.

On business transition

Property developer Li Ka-shing held the title of the richest tycoon in Asia, followed by Internet entrepreneur Jack Ma. And now the tile is yours, also a realty developer.

I am not a realty player any more. As I said before, I plan to completely withdraw from the property sector in three to five years.

Do you think withdrawing from the property sector will become a trend?

Yes, it is certainly becoming a trend. We have several more companies that will launch IPOs in 2015 and 2016. You will find the total value of these companies will exceed the commercial real estate sector. Even the commercial real estate sector will change its name to Wanda Commercial Development Co or Wanda Commercial Service Co in 2017. Since I will not invest in property sector any more, I will be just a service provider.

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