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Wanda to invest in online payment platform

2014-12-26 13:37 Global Times/Agencies Web Editor: Qin Dexing

Dalian Wanda Group Co, whose real estate arm just raised about $3.7 billion in a Hong Kong share sale, plans to invest more than $300 million for control of a Chinese third-party payment platform, sources familiar with the deal said.

The Beijing-based conglomerate, China's biggest commercial real estate developer, is diversifying into e-commerce as it seeks to maintain profitability during China's property downturn.

The company is expected to announce on Friday it is taking a controlling stake in 99Bill Corp, a Chinese payment processor similar to PayPal, the sources said. The sources declined to be identified because the deal has not been made public.

The investment is expected to be valued at over 2 billion yuan ($322.55 million), they said.

The 99Bill tie-up will put property billionaire Wang Jianlin, Dalian Wanda's chairman, into direct competition with Alibaba Group Holding Ltd founder Jack Ma Yun and his Alipay unit, which controls about 80 percent of China's mobile payment market.

Wang has said he was preparing to shift the focus of the conglomerate toward entertainment, tourism and online business. He said at a conference on Sunday that he would announce plans for transforming the group early next year.

In August, Dalian Wanda teamed up with two Chinese Internet giants, Tencent Holdings Ltd and Baidu Inc, to launch an e-commerce joint venture that could leverage the group's 104 Wanda Plaza shopping malls, 72 luxury hotels and 150 movie theaters in 111 Chinese cities.

Dalian Wanda is investing 5 billion yuan and holds a 70 percent stake in the venture, which is promoting the use of e-vouchers, e-coupons and e-tickets at the group's properties.

"O2O [online to off-line] is the biggest pie in e-commerce," said Wang. "This is just the beginning."

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