Rumors swirl about new troubles for Wanda – China’s latest business and technology news
On August 27, the U.S.-based political gossip and news site Boxun published an article (in Chinese) claiming that the billionaire chairman of Dalian Wanda Group Wang Jianlin 王健林 and his family were stopped by the authorities from boarding a private plane at Tianjin Airport, and prohibited from leaving the country. Wanda issued a denial (in English and Chinese), saying that the “rumors are utterly baseless and have ulterior motives behind them.”
- Such denials are standard when business executives disappear in China: Immediately after the tycoon Xiao Jianhua 肖建华 was taken from his Hong Kong apartment by Chinese security agents and spirited across the border into the mainland, a full-page newspaper advertisement appeared in Hong Kong claiming that Xiao had traveled overseas for medical treatment. Xiao has not yet been seen in public.
- Comments on the story on social media such as this Weibo post (in Chinese) do not seem to have been censored; many internet users are expressing doubt about the company’s denial, and schadenfreude about the possible comeuppance of one of China’s richest men.
- Bloomberg reports that bonds and shares of Wanda fell after the reports of Wang’s detention, although the “company denial helped the assets rally later in the day.”
- Wanda has been in the news in the last few months for its retreat from the film business, and worries that the company’s overseas buying acquisition spree of the last few years has made it a target in the government’s ongoing clampdown on cross-border investments by Chinese firms.
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