China mogul and Hollywood investor reaches for the sky in Chicago

Wang Jianlin, chairman of Chinese conglomerate Wanda Group, which acquired AMC Entertainment Holdings for $2.6 billion, inside his Beijing office.
(David Pierson / Los Angeles Times)

China’s richest man is expanding his empire in America.

Wang Jianlin, whose Beijing-based Dalian Wanda Group acquired AMC Theatres for $2.6 billion in 2012, now plans to build Chicago’s third-tallest skyscraper, according to a report in the Chicago Tribune.

Wanda, China’s largest commercial property company and cinema operator, said it would take a 90% stake in a planned 89-story skyscraper along the Chicago River.

The tower, which would include a hotel and luxury apartments, is set for completion in 2018, the company said in a statement.


“Investing in Chicago property is just Wanda’s first move into the U.S. real estate market,” Wang, who is chairman of Wanda Group, said in the statement. “Within a year, Wanda will invest in more five-star hotel projects in major U.S. cities like New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco.”

Wanda, which owns shopping centers, luxury hotels, department stores and cinemas in China, has been expanding its investments in the U.S. and other countries. Wanda invested more than $1 billion in a luxury hotel in London last year and recently acquired a 28-story skyscraper in Madrid.

The company also has been building stronger ties in Hollywood.

In addition to the AMC acquisition, which made Wanda the largest movie theater operator in the world, Wanda last year donated $20 million to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences for its new film museum, slated to open in 2017. Wanda also has partnered with 20th Century Fox to co-produce movies in China.


In a 2012 interview with the Los Angeles Times, Wang said Wanda planned to invest $10 billion in U.S. companies in the next decade, which could include buying department stores, hotel management companies and at least one more cinema chain. In all, Wanda plans to invest as much as $30 billion worldwide in the next decade, he said.

Follow me on Twitter: @rverrier

Get our daily Envelope newsletter