China's Dalian Wanda to spend $1.6 billion on UK yacht maker, hotel
LONDON (Reuters) - Chinese conglomerate Dalian Wanda Group said it would spend $1.6 billion (1 billion pounds) to buy British yacht maker Sunseeker and develop an upmarket London hotel, the latest example of a trend for Chinese companies to acquire top luxury global brands.
The company said on Wednesday it had agreed to buy a 91.8 percent stake in privately-held Sunseeker for 320 million pounds and would invest 700 million pounds to build a 160-room luxury hotel and apartment complex overlooking London's River Thames.
The complex will be the first luxury hotel opened by a Chinese firm overseas, Wanda said. The project has already obtained full planning consent, it added.
Chinese companies have started to acquire top international brands as a shortcut to global success. There is also growing demand for luxury in mainland China, where new marinas line the country's southern coast.
Set up in the 1970s, yacht builder Sunseeker employs around 2,300 people in and around Poole on the south coast of England. Following the acquisition, the firm would retain the base and existing workforce, Wanda said.
Prices for its luxury boats start at 400,000 pounds and its new top of the range 155 Yacht costs 20 million pounds, with former Formula One boss Eddie Jordan the first customer.
Sunseeker is currently majority-owned by Irish private equity company FL Partners and has cushioned itself against the global downturn by expanding in Latin America, Russia and Asia.
Dalian Wanda, which last year bought U.S. cinema chain AMC Entertainment for $2.6 billion, said it expected the Sunseeker deal to close in mid-August. The remaining 8.19 percent of Sunseeker will be bought by the yacht maker's management.
Wanda is following in the wake of Chinese machinery maker Shandong Heavy Industry Group, which took over Italian yacht maker Ferretti last year.
(Reporting by Rhys Jones, Editing by Rosalba O'Brien)
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