The Chinese conglomerate Dalian Wanda Group is one of the world’s largest commercial property companies, with operations in real estate management, financial services, and the tourism and cultural businesses. The company is well known throughout China by way of its iconic Wanda Plazas — mixed-use centers that combine shopping, dining, and entertainment areas with residential and office spaces. It owns a vast array of businesses, ranging from its flagship commercial real estate holdings to theme parks, cinemas, hotels and asset management companies. Wanda is a real estate industry leader with a well-respected brand in China.
Today, Wanda is transitioning to an asset-light business model, helping property owners develop, build and operate commercial and cultural projects, as well letting others license its brand name. The company plans to fully shift to the new model by 2020, completely withdrawing from residential real estate development projects and thus significantly reducing its current financial liabilities. The asset-light strategy is gaining popularity among other real estate developers, too, in response to the increasing cost of capital, greater policy restrictions, and toughened property management service requirements. Wanda’s new strategy provides valuable insights for other real estate firms doing the same.