Wang Jianlin (Chinese: 王健林; pinyin: Wáng Jiànlín; born October 24, 1954) is a Chinese businessman. He is the founder and chairman of Dalian Wanda Group, China’s largest real estate developer, as well as the world’s largest movie theater operator. He owns 20% of the Spanish football club Atlético Madrid.

Early life

Wang Jianlin was born in October 24, 1954, in Cangxi County, Guangyuan, Sichuan, China. His father fought for Mao Zedong’s People’s Liberation Army during the Long March (October 1934–October 1935).

Career

After sixteen years in the People’s Liberation Army, Wang started working as the Office Administrator for the Xigang District in the city of Dalian. In 1989, he became the General Manager of Xigang Residential Development. He was Head of Factory in a Jiangyin-based factory. In 1992, he started working as the General Manager for the Dalian Wanda Group, where he has been CEO since 1993. He has also been serving as Executive Deputy General Manager and Director in Jiangsu Jiangnan Water Co.

His company owns 21.57 million square metres of investment property, 134 Wanda Shopping Plazas, 82 luxury hotels, 213 cinemas, 99 department stores, and 54 karaoke centres around China. The company became the world’s largest theatre owner in 2012 when it acquired AMC Theaters. He bought out U.S.-based AMC Entertainment for $2.6 billion. He listed it on the New York Stock Exchange in December. He flew in celebrities Leonardo DiCaprio, Kate Beckinsale, and John Travolta to help launch an $8 billion mini-Hollywood in the coastal city of Qingdao in September 2013.

He acquired the landmark Edificio España building in Madrid, Spain, in March 2014 from Grupo Santander for “about a third less than the €389 million that Banco Santander paid in 2005, at the height of Spain’s construction boom”. Previously, Dalian Wanda had taken on billion-dollar hotel development projects in London and New York, as well as property projects in India.

In September 2013 he announced plans to build the world’s largest studio pavilion at Oriental Movie Metropolis which include a 10,000 square meter studio and an underwater stage.

In 2014, he acquired land at 9900 Wilshire Boulevard in Beverly Hills, California to build the American headquarters of his entertainment company.

In January 2015 it was reported that he was buying a 20% stake in the Spanish football club Atletico Madrid for €45m.

On November 4, 2016 Wang Jianlin’s Dalian Wanda Group announced plans to acquire Dick Clark Productions for about $1 billion, giving it the broadcasting rights to the Golden Globe Awards, the Academy of Country Music Awards, and the New Year countdown celebrations in New York.

The Economist called him “a man of Napoleonic ambition”, and citing his military background in the PLA, where he rose from border guard to regimental commander. He enforces “iron discipline” in the workplace, where employees are fined when they violate the company’s conservative dress code. Despite his age, he has a “trim figure”.

According to the Hurun Report, in 2014 he was the 26th richest person in the world with $25 billion.

According to Bloomberg, in 2015 he was the richest person in Asia with $29.9 billion.

According to Forbes, in 2016 he was the richest person in Asia with $28.7 billion.

Politics

At the age of 15, Wang started his 17-year service with the People’s Liberation Army, initially as a border guard before rising to become a regimental commander. In 1976, he joined the Communist Party of China. He served as deputy to the 17th National Congress.

Wang is a delegate to the Chinese National People’s Congress. He was twice named CCTV’s “Economic Person of the Year”. He serves as the Vice-Chairman of the All-China Federation of Industry and Commerce, and has been a member of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference since 2008.

In 2011 he donated US$197 million to charitable causes, such as underwriting the restoration of an ancient temple in Nanjing. In 2014-2015 he donated US$200,000 for the restoration of the Electric Fountain in Beverly Hills, California.

Personal life

He is married to Lin Ning (Chinese: 林宁; pinyin: Lín Níng), and has a son, Wang Sicong (Chinese: 王思聪; pinyin: Wáng Sīcōng; born 1988), educated at Winchester College and University College London in the UK. Wang Sicong is currently a board member of the Wanda Group and a venture capitalist in China through his Beijing-based private equity fund, Prometheus Capital (普思投资).

In December 2015 Wang Jianlin bought 15a Kensington Palace Gardens, London, for £80 million. The house was previously lived in by the Ukrainian billionaire, Leonard Blavatnik, who rented it during lengthy works on the house he owns opposite.

In July 2016 Wang Jianlin’s book The Wanda Way: The managerial philosophy and values of one of China’s largest companies was published globally by LID Publishing. The book includes his renowned 2013 ChinaCentral Television Voice interview, his speech and question-and-answer session to the Harvard Business School, and Wang Jianlin’s business philosophy on Wanda’s real estate, resort, and movie units.

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