China’s richest man eyeing France’s thriving retail space

DALIAN/CHINA, 12SEPT09 - Wang Jianlin, Chairman and President, Dalian Wanda Group, speaks during the Success versus Survival in a Global Downturn session at The World Economic Forum Annual Meeting of the New Champions in Dalian, China 10-12 September 2009. Copyright World Economic Forum ( Behring)

Beijing / Bloomberg

Chinese billionaire Wang Jianlin’s Dalian Wanda Group Co. is planning to invest billions of euros in a retail and leisure development outside of Paris, according to two people familiar with the matter.
An announcement may come as soon as on Friday, according to the people, who asked not to be identified because the project is confidential. Wang said at the University of Oxford that Wanda would announce a “major deal” this week, though he didn’t provide details. The project, known as EuropaCity, will be built in Gonesse, a town 16 kilometers northeast of Paris, between Le Bourget and Charles de Gaulle airports, according to a website for the property.
For Wanda, which runs theme parks across China, movie theater chains in the U.S. and a soccer club in Spain, the move represents a renewed overseas push, underscoring Wang’s increasingly global ambitions. The conglomerate agreed in January to buy “Godzilla”-producer Legendary Entertainment for $3.5 billion, paving the way for the tycoon to become the first Chinese person to control a Hollywood film company.
Auchan Project
Construction on EuropaCity is slated to begin in 2019, with the project opening in 2024, according to the website. The development, being built by property company Immochan, will include a theme park, shopping center, water and snow parks, sports fields, performance spaces and hotels, according to the site. Immochan is the development arm of GroupeAuchan, a family-owned supermarket operator. A spokesman for Immochan declined to comment.
With theme parks, Wang has set his sights on beating Walt Disney Co. In January, he 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, according to a transcript of the speech posted on the company’s website.

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