Wang Jianlin, the richest man in China, says Beijing should motivate officials if it is to spur economic growth.
Wang, who controls real estate giant Wanda group, told an audience at
His comments come amid heavy public criticism of local government officials for alleged inaction and dereliction of duty. Many commentators believe Beijing’s far-reaching anti-corruption campaign has left officials too wary of taking business risks.
Wang denied the campaign had had this effect. He said it had “at least saved much trouble for business people, especially private companies … there are much fewer officials who would ask for bribes now”.
The speech came on the day the Hurun Global Rich List said Wang had displaced Hong Kong billionaire Lee Ka-shing as richest man of Chinese origin. Hurun estimated his family’s fortune at 170 billion yuan (HK$202 billion).
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Wang is on a five-day tour of Europe in which he is visiting Britain, Switzerland and France to visit politicians, businessmen and sports personalities.
He said despite China’s economic slowdown, there were opportunities – even if there were risks. Traditional industries were declining, but there were “huge opportunities in services, entertainment, sports and tourism”.
Wanda has invested more than US$15 billion in more than 10 countries since it started expanding overseas in 2012, mainly in entertainment and travel.
The company was in talks about a multi-billion-Euro project in Britain, Wang said, adding that one third of Wanda’s earnings were expected to come from overseas by 2020.
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“When we acquired [cinema chain] AMC, I promised we would invest more than US$10 billion in the United States in ten years,” he said. “I have fulfilled my promise in more than three years.”
A recent acquisition was the US$3.5 billion takeover of the American media company Legendary Entertainment. “People in China often say Wanda knows nothing but to buy, buy and buy,” said Wang. “But what should I do if I don’t buy?”
He said it was impossible for a foreign company to enter a local industry without acquisitions.
He said Wanda did not only target “expensive” companies, but the “right” ones. The right ones strengthened Wanda’s previous acquisitions and were transplantable to the Chinese market.