China's Dalian Wanda to invest $1.6 bn in London property and yacht-maker Sunseeker

Chinese property group Dalian Wanda, will spend £1 billion ($1.6 billion) in buying Britain's largest luxury yacht maker Sunseeker and a property in London to build a luxury hotel and apartment complex.

 Wanda chairman Wang Jianlin
Wanda chairman Wang Jianlin

Dalian Wanda, which last year acquired AMC Entertainment in a deal valued at $2.6 billion, creating the world's biggest cinema chain, said that the investments in the UK would further its goal of expanding beyond the Chinese real estate market and into the overseas luxury, entertainment and tourism industries, adding to its Chinese portfolio of  69 Wanda Plazas, 38 five-star hotels, 6,000 cinema screens, 57 department stores and 63 karaoke outlets across China.

Dalian Wanda, controlled by Wang Jianlin, who owns Sunseeker's Predator 108 Special Edition model, will acquire a majority 91.81 per cent in luxury motor yacht manufacturer Sunseeker, for £320 million.

The remaining 8.19 per cent will be acquired by Sunseeker management, including its founder Robert Braithwaite.

Dalian Wanda would spend £700 million in buying a property in Central London from Green Property and build a five-star luxury Wanda hotel. It will be the first luxury Wanda Hotel, the company's first hotel outside China and the first luxury hotel by a Chinese firm overseas.

Under the Sunseeker deal, the luxury yacht maker will remain a British company, headquartered in Poole, Dorset, and will maintain its existing production bases in the UK along with its current workforce.

The existing management will remain on the Sunseeker boards and Braithwaite will continue to be involved in the management of the business.

Wanda said that is fully committed to supporting Sunseeker's superior products, its rich heritage and its premium brand, which will be further enhanced by Wanda's continued investment.

Founded in 1968, Sunseeker, which started as an importer and distributor of boats from Scandinavia and the US, today makes luxury yachts at its seven production plants and has an annual turnover of nearly £290 million.

Its clients include Sheikhs from the Middle East, film stars, sports icons, industrialist and Russian oligarchs.

Many Sunseeker yachts have appeared in James Bond movies, including The World Is Not Enough, Die Another Day, Quantum of Solace and Casino Royale.

Over the next few years, China and other growth markets are expected to contribute significantly to global growth in the luxury yacht sector.

Stewart McIntyre, managing director of Sunseeker, said, ''Support from Wanda will be instrumental in enabling Sunseeker to unlock the enormous potential of China's rapidly expanding luxury yacht market. Wanda's history of managing global brands after acquisition makes clear that it will continue to invest in Sunseeker and support our management team as we take the company to the next stage of development.''

Its Wanda luxury hotel will be located at a prime location on the South Bank, overlooking the River Thames, Westminster Palace and Battersea Power Station.

The project will have a construction size of 105,000 square meters, approximately 20,000 of which will be used for the Wanda hotel, which will have 160 rooms. The project plans include 63,000 square meters of premium apartments.

Wang said, ''Through the international development of Wanda hotels, we are confident that we will be the leader in bringing branded Chinese luxury hotels to the global market, where they have long been absent. The London property market has excellent investment opportunities and we have confidence that Wanda's strength and expertise will make the Wanda London's premier hotel, further promoting development in the area.''

With a net worth of $8.6 billion, Wang Jianlin is the world's 128th richest man, according to Forbes.

Wanda Group operates 69 Wanda Plazas, 38 five-star hotels, 6,000 cinema screens, 57 department stores and 63 karaoke outlets across China.

The company has assets of $48 billion and an annual income of $23 billion.