Wang Jianlin

Wang Jianlin, head of the Dalian Wanda Group, has committed to investing 150 billion yuan, or $24.2 billion, to build 28 new Wanda Plaza luxury malls and a theme park in Chongqing, China.

Wang Jianlin, head of the Dalian Wanda Group, has committed to investing 150 billion yuan, or $24.2 billion, to build 28 new Wanda Plaza luxury malls and a theme park in Chongqing, the rapidly developing city in southwest China.

This story first appeared in the June 3, 2015 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

The move is part of the company’s strategy to reduce its reliance on revenue from property investments and will develop the shopping centers and a “Wanda Cultural Tourism City” in partnership with the Chongqing municipal government.

“The deal is one of the company’s largest ever and will make Wanda Chongqing’s largest investment partner,” the commercial property giant said.

The arrangement envisions an eight-fold increase in the number of malls that the developer has in the swelling municipality, home to just under 30 million people.

Wanda plans to build its fleet of malls to 1,000 by the end of 2025, a 10-fold increase that would include 21 more malls in Wang’s home province of Sichuan. This signals a pivot away from China’s eastern tier 1 markets, which are becoming increasingly saturated by malls.

China’s property market remains in the doldrums despite the government’s efforts to prop up activity by easing credit conditions for home buyers, according to data from the FocusEconomics Consensus Forecast for Asia Pacific. Infrastructure spending is also slowing amid declining local government revenues.

China’s retail sales growth is tracking at its lowest rate in nine years, according to data published this month by the National Bureau of Statistics of China. Yet Dalian Wanda holds that profits are to be had in China’s fast-developing central region.

Wang’s estimated wealth soared to $24.2 billion this year from $15.1 billion a year ago, according to Forbes.