Wanda's Wang shifts from real estate to films and charity

( China Daily ) Updated: 2015-02-12 08:14:53

The former People's Liberation Army soldier made his first pot of gold developing real estate in Dalian city. Then he started buying up movie theaters across China. In 2012, he began producing and distributing locally made films, including Man Of Tai Chi, directed by Keanu Reeves.

That same year, he paid $2.6 billion plus debt to acquire AMC Entertainment Holdings, the second-biggest US cinema operator. He says he is in talks to buy a majority stake in Lions Gate Entertainment. And he says he is also keen to invest in Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer.

Last September, he paid $1.2 billion for land in Beverly Hills, California, on which he says he will build the headquarters of his nascent US movie empire.

"Many people come knock at my door, but Wanda is interested only in the big players and we want control," he says.

Cocooned in the wood-paneled luxury of his Gulfstream, he describes his Hollywood strategy as key to transforming Dalian Wanda from a company heavily dependent on China's volatile property market into a more-diversified global business empire.

"I give myself six more years to make Wanda a world-class company in the league of Microsoft and Wal-Mart," he says.

By 2020, he aims to reduce Wanda's dependence on property revenues to 50 percent, with much of the rest of his income coming from the burgeoning Chinese film industry, the world's second largest by box office receipts.

Wang predicts China will overtake the US as the world's biggest movie market by 2017. Buying Hollywood studios, he says, will give him the expertise, content and distribution he needs to conquer that market.

He says he will retire in six years to devote himself to philanthropy and help turn China's national soccer team into a globally competitive outfit.

He says he has not decided on a succession plan and will eventually donate most of his holding in Dalian Wanda to charity.

"I don't need that much money," he says.

"It's never about the wealth, but the process of pursuing wealth. As long as the process is thrilling, the numbers in the end don't matter."


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