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Dalian Wanda to end partnerships with foreign hotel chains

Debt-ridden Chinese conglomerate seeks profit from rebranding and going solo

The Wanda Vista in Beijing was known as the Sofitel Wanda under a partnership with France's Accor. Wanda will continue rebranding jointly run hotels. (Photo by Daisuke Harashima)

DALIAN, China -- Dalian Wanda Group will dissolve its partnerships with foreign hotel chains as the debt-ridden conglomerate seeks to generate profit by rebranding jointly run properties and operating them as its own.

The Chinese company plans to bring about 10 existing luxury hotels under its own brand and independently operate any new hotels it opens in the future.

Wanda has already renamed the Sofitel Wanda Beijing, which was run jointly with France's Accor, as the Wanda Vista Beijing. The company plans to continue taking over operations as its contracts with foreign partners expire. A source at Wanda declined to comment on when it would be finished dissolving the partnerships, citing contractual reasons.

Wanda is the leading player in China's luxury hotel market, operating properties that sport foreign brands in many cities, including Beijing, Dalian and Wuhan, as well as own branded hotels.

A spree of big overseas acquisitions, however, left Wanda with loads of interest-bearing debt. The company's financial woes worsened as Chinese authorities tried to block lending to Wanda.

Last summer, the struggling company announced it was selling its hotel assets and theme parks to Chinese property developers.

In teaming up with foreign hotel operators, Wanda typically owned the buildings and collected rent while leaving the running of the properties to its partners.

Wanda has been shifting its focus away from developing real estate such as condominiums and toward managing and operating properties.

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