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Wanda billionaire extends selloff with London luxury project
[LONDON] Billionaire Wang Jianlin agreed to sell one of the largest luxury residential projects under development in London as his Dalian Wanda Group continues to shed assets acquired in a spree that once made the founder China's richest man.
Two of the company's units sold their interests in the One Nine Elms project on the south bank of London's River Thames for about £59 million ($107.5 million), according to a filing late on Tuesday in Hong Kong. Guangzhou R&F Properties, is the buyer, according to two people with knowledge of the matter who asked not to be identified discussing private information.
The sale of a project billed as worth £700 million at completion adds to more than US$9 billion worth of disposals over the past 12 months as the real estate-to-entertainment group responds to government pressure to pare debt and focus overseas investments on assets considered strategically important to China.
Mr Wang's Wanda Hotel Development said in November that it was doing a strategic review of its projects stretching from Sydney to Chicago and would consider opportunities that create value for shareholders.
Pressure has mounted on Mr Wang to raise cash and cut debt after Fitch, Standard & Poor's and Moody's Investors Service cut the flagship property unit's credit rating to junk over the past few months.
Under the One Nine Elms sale agreement, the purchaser will also assume a £159.5 million loan owed by Wanda Hotel, according to the statement. A representative for R&F declined to comment.
In July, R&F, one of China's top 20 developers by contracted sales, agreed to pay about US$3 billion for the 77 Wanda hotels in July, stepping in to ease financing for the conglomerate's sale of the companies tourism and theme park projects to rival developer Sunac China Holdings.
In August, R&F and C C Land Holdings, the owner of London's Cheesegrater tower, partnered to replace Wanda as the buyers of the adjacent 10 acre (four hectares) Nine Elms Square land.
New home values have been slipping in the district as developers compete to sell apartments to overseas buyers.
Construction has begun on the plot, which has planning approval for an apartment tower of about 56 storeys and a five-star hotel. The developer sought approval earlier this month to enlarge the hotel into space previously planned as offices, according to a filing to the borough.
Wanda paid £88.8 million for the plot in 2013, a Land Registry filing shows.