In this April 26, 2017 photo, Chinese billionaire and Wanda Group Chairman Wang Jianlin speaks during an event for the signing of a strategic partnership between Wanda and the Abbott World Marathon Majors in Beijing. China's best known rich report released Thursday, Oct. 12, 2017, said that property tycoon Xu Jiayin has become the country's wealthiest person, knocking billionaire Wang Jianlin off the top spot. (AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein)
INTERNATIONAL - Chinese conglomerate Dalian Wanda Group’s revenue fell by 10.8percent in 2017, the second consecutive year it declined, as the debt-laden group sold off property assets and faced increasing scrutiny from regulators and lenders.

The property-to-entertainment group, owned by tycoon Wang Jianlin, reported 227.4 billion yuan (R431.47bn) in revenue last year, while net profit remained flat compared to 2016, said a statement posted on the company’s website on Saturday. It did not reveal the profit figure.

Total assets, of which 93percent are domestic, declined 11.5percent to 700bn yuan.

The group came under pressure last year from a government crackdown on perceived risky spending overseas and high-levels of corporate debt. Banks heightened their scrutiny and ratings agencies downgraded its property unit to junk status.

The Chinese conglomerate is expected to announce the sale of two Australian property projects in the coming days, sources said, the latest in a string of asset sales as the firm looks to reduce its portfolio after a major acquisition spree.

Wanda said last week it had agreed to sell its interests in the London luxury development project, One Nine Elms, for $81million (983.95m).

Wang Jianlin, Wanda’s chairperson, said on Saturday Wanda had greatly reduced its debt and would use its “limited cash” to develop Wanda Plazas, the group’s core business.

“Wanda invested in a few projects overseas in the past few years and now we have decided to clear all overseas debt,” Wang said in a speech at the group’s annual meeting, which was published on its website yesterday.

Wanda’s commercial real estate arm, which sold a portfolio of hotels and 13 tourism assets in China for $9bn in July, saw income fall 21percent last year to 112.5bn yuan.

Revenue at its sports division increased by 12.3percent to 7.2bn yuan, while that of the cultural division rose 32.6percent to 63.8bn yuan.

Wanda is considering a listing for its sports assets as part of efforts to rationalise its portfolio, according to people familiar with the situation. For 2018, Wanda Group has set a revenue target of 247.9bn yuan, with around half coming from the commercial real estate arm, according to Wang. The chairpewrson pledged to reduce Wanda’s corporate debt through all available means. 

- Reuters/African News Agency (ANA)