Daily Management Review

$3.3 Billion French Theme Park to be Built by Billionaire Wang to Challenge Disney Park of Europe


02/27/2016




$3.3 Billion French Theme Park to be Built by Billionaire Wang to Challenge Disney Park of Europe
Taking on Walt Disney Co. in the euro area’s second-largest economy, a partnership led by Chinese billionaire Wang Jianlin’s Dalian Wanda Group co. plans to invest more than 3 billion euros ($3.3 billion) in a retail and leisure development project outside of Paris.
 
The project christened EuropaCity will be built 10 kilometers (6.2 miles) northeast of Paris. The company said in a statement that this investment would be the biggest single investment project in Europe to date, including a theme park, show stage, hotel, retail stores and conference centers.
 
According to the statement, about 20,000 jobs during construction and 14,000 after it opens would be provided by the project that spans more than 80 hectares (198 acres).
 
The move represents a renewed overseas push, underscoring Wang’s increasingly global ambitions for Wanda, which runs theme parks across China, movie theater chains in the U.S. and a soccer club in Spain. Paving the way for the tycoon to become the first Chinese person to control a Hollywood film company, the conglomerate agreed in January to buy “Godzilla” producer Legendary Entertainment for $3.5 billion.
  
The project would be overseen by France-based shopping center developer Immochan. Its is an arm of Groupe Auchan, a family-owned supermarket operator.
 
Citing people familiar with the matter, the Wall Street Journal reported that Wang is also interested in potentially buying Amaury Sport Organisation, a company that runs cycling’s Tour de France race.
 
Setting his sights on beating Disney in the theme park business, Wang also vies with Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. founder Jack Ma for the title of China’s richest person.
 
According to a transcript of the speech posted on the company’s website in January, Wang told executives that visitor arrivals and revenue at Wanda’s tourism projects in Wuxi and Guangzhou will beat those of Disneyland in Shanghai and Hong Kong, respectively.
 
Disneyland Paris, which needed a bailout in 2014 to upgrade its facilities and reverse a slump in attendance would be challenged by EuropaCity.
 
In addition to the Legendary acquisition, a $2.3 billion investment in three hospitals, the formation of a financial group and the signing a $10 billion development deal in India was announced earlier this year by Wanda. It is planning five major acquisitions in 2016 -- three of them overseas, Wanda has said.
 
The Club Atletico de Madrid soccer team and Swiss marketing firm Infront Sports & Media AG are among Wang’s investments in Europe.
 
As the group braces for falling sales from its main property business, Wanda is seeking acquisitions to bolster growth. Wang has been prompted to increasingly look toward expanding his entertainment business even as his estimated fortune exceeded $26 billion according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.
 
Wanda’s fast-growing Cultural Industry Group, which saw revenue climb 46 percent last year and is forecast to climb 30 percent in 2016 houses the operations of Wang’s film, tourism and sports. The slump in its property business would probably result in a decline of 12 percent in the overall sales of the group which rose by 19 percent in 2015.
 
(Source:www.bloomberg.com) 






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