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Who’s who behind the Dalian Wanda Group

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KINIGUIDE | Following the termination of Iskandar Waterfront Holdings (IWH) and China Railway Engineering Corp (CREC) consortium’s RM7.4 billion 60 percent stake in Bandar Malaysia, Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak paid a visit to Chinese conglomerate Dalian Wanda Group in his latest trip to China.

During the visit, Najib had expressed confidence in Wanda’s ability to do “great things” in Bandar Malaysia.

Although a deal has yet to be signed between the two, many cannot help but wonder what or rather who is behind the world’s biggest private property developer.

So who founded Wanda?

The real estate and entertainment conglomerate was founded in 1988 by Chinese billionaire Wang Jianlin, who, up until last week, was China’s richest man until he was overtaken by Alibaba Group founder Jack Ma.

Forbes estimated that Ma’s fortune was worth US$30.9 billion. Wang follows closely behind with a staggering fortune of US$30.7 billion.

Following in the footsteps of his father who had a career in the military, the 62-year-old spent sixteen years in the People’s Liberation Army, where he rose from border guard to regimental commander.

After leaving the People’s Liberation Army in 1986, Wang started working as an office administrator for the Xigang district government in Dalian.

He managed to turn around a failing state-owned property developer after obtaining a loan with the help of an army friend. Wang became chairperson of Wanda, a post he has held since 1989.

Turning the company into a moneymaking enterprise, Wang grew his empire by building his signature Wanda Plazas across China.

What has Wanda acquired?

Keeping true to its entertainment nature, Wanda in 2012 acquired US-based cinema operator AMC Theatres, which turned Wanda Cinemas into the world’s largest cinema operator. Two years later, Wanda Cinemas announced that it had acquired Australian cinema chain Hoyts....

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