One-time Communist soldier turned mogul is now China’s richest man

‘Forbes’ magazine crowns billionaire Wang Jianlin - owner of the world’s largest cinema chain

Beijing

He is a property magnate who can count the world’s largest cinema chain amongst his business interests, in addition to dozens of shopping centres and five-star hotels.

Now Wang Jianlin can add another accolade befitting his billionaire status – he has been named China’s richest man by Forbes.

The 58-year-old Sichuan native, whose Dalian Wanda Group conglomerate this summer acquired a 92 per cent stake the luxury British yacht manufacturer Sunseeker, whose boats have appeared in a number of James Bond films, is worth £8.9bn, the influential publication said.

Wanda, a private company with interests in everything from real estate to retail to film production, acquired the American AMC movie theatre chain last year for £1.66bn, and Wang owns over nine million square metres of investment property.

The company is building a £700m high-rise hotel project in London, on the River Thames in Wandsworth which will include a 660ft-tall tower of luxury apartments and a 530ft-tall five-star hotel with 160 rooms.

Founded in 1988, Wanda has assets of £30.6bn and an annual income of £14.7bn. It operates 71 Wanda plazas, 38 five-star hotels, 6,000 cinema screens, 57 department stores and 63 karaoke outlets across the country. Wang has a background in the People’s Liberation Army, in which he served from 1970 to 1986.

He joined the Communist Party in 1976 and has been a member of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, a top parliamentary advisory body since 2008.

As well as overseas projects, Wang believes the Chinese economy is going to keep growing strongly because the mammoth process of migration from the countryside to the cities and he sees a key role for Wanda in this urbanisation project. While more than half of the population currently live in the cities, this figure is set to rise further.

“By 2020 China’s goal is to reach 70 per cent of the population in cities, another 200 million people entering the cities,” he told a forum in Chengdu earlier this year.

“They need jobs, they need a house, an apartment, they need to go to movies, they need to eat.  So it’s a huge market there. Therefore I believe China’s market to be maintained at a high growth rate, eight per cent, slightly slower, slightly higher, but I think we still will have about 20 years of this type growth rate,” he said.

One of his key goals is to become a major player in the culture industry, which the ruling Communist Party has identified as a “pillar industry”.

He expects annual revenues of 80 billion yuan (€8.3bn) from Wanda’s cultural business.

China is keen to boost its “soft power” around the world, and what could fit this ambition better than a giant media organisation running cinemas and showing popular films while backed with lots of cash from the property market.

Wanda’s film company Wanda Media has been involved with actor Keanu Reeves’ directorial debut Man of Tai Chi, Police Story 2013 with Jackie Chan and The Monkey King: Uproar in Heaven 3D with Donnie Yen and Chow Yun-fat.

The strength of the property market in China saw his fortune soar from £5bn last year, when he was in third place, and he is now worth nearly £2bn more than last year’s title-holder Zong Qinghou, China’s biggest homegrown beverage entrepreneur, Forbes said.

China’s wealthiest tycoons are still worth far less than the global hyper-rich, such as Mexican tycoon Carlos Slim, who topped the rankings with an estimated fortune of £46.5bn, while Microsoft chairman Bill Gates was second with £42.7bn.

 

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs People

Recruitment Genius: HR Manager

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They are in need of a HR Manage...

h2 Recruit Ltd: Business Development Manager - HR Consultancy - £65,000 OTE

£35000 - £40000 per annum + £65,000 OTE: h2 Recruit Ltd: London, Birmingham, M...

Day In a Page

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

The 12 ways of Christmas

We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

The male exhibits strange behaviour

A new study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'
Marian Keyes: The author on her pre-approved Christmas, true love's parking implications and living in the moment

Marian Keyes

The author on her pre-approved Christmas, true love's parking implications and living in the moment
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef creates an Italian-inspired fish feast for Christmas Eve

Bill Granger's Christmas Eve fish feast

Bill's Italian friends introduced him to the Roman Catholic custom of a lavish fish supper on Christmas Eve. Here, he gives the tradition his own spin…
Liverpool vs Arsenal: Brendan Rodgers is fighting for his reputation

Rodgers fights for his reputation

Liverpool manager tries to stay on his feet despite waves of criticism
Amir Khan: 'The Taliban can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'

Amir Khan attacks the Taliban

'They can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'
Michael Calvin: Sepp Blatter is my man of the year in sport. Bring on 2015, quick

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Sepp Blatter is my man of the year in sport. Bring on 2015, quick