HONG KONG, June 8 (Reuters) - Dalian Wanda Group, China's largest commercial property developer, said it plans to raise funds from investors online this week to help finance its new shopping malls, the latest developer tapping an emerging trend amid a sluggish property market.
Wanda, in a statement late on Sunday, did not disclose how much it was targeting to raise in its first crowdfunding initiative to be launched on Friday, but a company official said it will be "at least several billion yuan".
The crowdfunding product is expected to give investors around 12 percent annualised returns, with 6 percent each from property income and appreciation, said the statement. The investment threshold for the product is only 1,000 yuan ($161.19), it added.
Some other developers in China have already tapped Internet financing. Greenland Hong Kong Holdings Ltd, a subsidiary of China's second-largest developer, the state-backed Greenland Group, said in March it had set up an online platform that connects property developers and investors with financing and investment opportunities.
Smaller peer Beijing-based Modern Land has raised more than 45 million yuan this year from six crowdfunding campaigns.
The increasing use of Internet financing, however, poses a dilemma for Chinese regulators, who want to make it easier for entrepreneurs to access funding but are wary of these unregulated credit pools.
Dalian Wanda Group chairman Wang Jianlin, China's richest man according to Forbes, has said the company will follow an "asset-light" strategy for its growth, seeking outside investment to finance the plazas and selling them off after five or seven years.
Wanda, the holding company of Dalian Wanda Commercial Properties, said in April it aimed to have 1,000 shopping malls open by 2025, a nine-fold jump from the end of last year, as it bets on growth in consumer activity, especially in lower-tier cities.
After climbing at double-digit rates through most of the prior years, home prices in China started cooling in late 2013 until recently. Data last month showed home sales measured by floor area rebounded 7.7 percent in April from a year ago, the first growth since November 2013. ($1 = 6.2039 Chinese yuan renminbi) (Reporting by Clare Jim; Editing by Muralikumar Anantharaman)