SHANGHAI — Mainland Chinese conglomerate Wanda is venturing into health care, it said Wednesday, with a US$2.3 billion investment in three hospitals in China, to be managed by a British company. Wanda, owned by mainland China’s richest man Wang Jianlin, has its origins in property development but is diversifying into areas ranging from entertainment to e-commerce as China’s economy evolves. Reports say the company might soon take a stake in U.S. film studio Legendary. Wanda plans to fund hospitals in commercial hub Shanghai, southwestern metropolis Chengdu and the port city of Qingdao, the firm said in a statement, adding the 15 billion yuan (US$2.3 billion) investment is the largest healthcare investment ever by a Chinese company. The hospitals will provide “international” standard care overseen by foreign directors, it said.
The project is also the first to be managed and operated by Britain’s International Hospitals Group (IHG), the statement said. The signing of the 10-year partnership agreement between the firms was witnessed by Britain’s Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond, who is visiting Beijing, said a separate statement released by the British embassy. IHG hopes the projects will yield revenue of £300 million (US$440 million), it added. Wanda founder Wang is known outside China for a string of overseas acquisitions including the organizer of Ironman extreme endurance contests, Swiss sports marketing group Infront, and a stake in Spanish football club Atletico Madrid. He burst into the international spotlight in 2012 by buying U.S. cinema chain AMC Entertainment for US$2.6 billion and his company owns more than 200 malls, shopping complexes and luxury hotels across China.