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China’s State Media Takes Aim at Wanda, LeEco

The People’s Daily, the most authoritative organ of China’s state-controlled media, has attacked entertainment conglomerates Dalian Wanda and LeEco for endangering the financial system.

In an opinion piece published Monday, the People’s Daily said that China is working to avoid a financial crisis similar to the ones that hit Japan, the U.S. and Europe. To achieve that, the Communist Party mouthpiece said, “de-leveraging… has become the new normal.”

The opinion piece reminded readers that finance is like water, in that it’s necessary to make the real economy grow. But it warned that companies should not put the cart before the horse.

“De-leveraging, unlocking idle funds and curbing asset bubbles are important for not only reversing the fund flows towards the real economy and fixing imbalances in the economic structure, but also for preventing systemic financial risks,” it said.

The newspaper specifically blasted Wanda and LeEco.

Naming LeEco co-founder Jia Yueting, the editorial accused the company of concocting tales in order to drive up valuations and to keep borrowing flowing. “The stories should have ended earlier,” the piece said.

Wanda, which previously had close government connections, was chastised for pursuing “barbarous expansion.” The paper said Wanda’s $9-billion asset sale of theme parks and hotels marked the end of that expansion, adding that the company’s “asset-light strategy,” announced in 2015, was the right path and that the latest steps should be more resolute.

Wanda, insurer Anbang, conglomerate Fosun and airlines-to-property group HNA are among a group which the People’s Daily calls “gray rhinos.” The term is a reference to large and dangerous beasts that have been hiding in plain sight, and which if left unchecked could cause a rampage.

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