Wang made his remarks at the World Economic Forum in Davos, where he is one of a delegation of top Chinese business leaders. His comments were first reported by Reuters.
Wang’s continued bullishness follows a year in which Wanda made a succession of high profile deals including the acquisition of Legendary Entertainment, Carmike Cinemas, and Dick Clark Productions. Those deals received growing pushback from increasingly hostile political forces in the U.S. Most of the deals had been announced before the election of Donald Trump as the next president of the U.S. Wanda also bought Europe’s largest cinema chain, Odeon-UCI.
But the geopolitical context in 2017 already looks very different from last year. At the same time as Trump’s pre-inauguration rhetoric has heightened xenophobia in the U.S., the Chinese government has also signalled that it too wants a slowdown in the export of capital from China.
“Certainly trade will be affected by tension between the two governments,” Wang said. Despite the hurdles, Wang said that the U.S. would remain his priority target for expansion, followed by Europe. A very large tourism project in Australia is also envisaged, Wang said, as the country is among the favorites of Chinese tourists.
Wanda was last year a potential buyer of the minority stake in Paramount Pictures that was offered last year before it was taken off the table. Wang said that he is still talking to other Hollywood studios about acquisitions, but added that they were not willing sellers.
The Chinese delegation at Davos is headed by President Xi Jinping. Other top Chinese business leaders in Davos include Alibaba chairman Jack Ma, China Media Capital’s Li Ruigang, and Baidu’s Zhang Yaqin. Cher Wang, head of Taiwanese phone maker HTC, and Greater China media investor, is also attending.
Wanda this weekend revealed some of its own financial figures for 2016. The data showed some of the efforts to change direction from a predominantly property group into one with a more diverse mix of cultural and entertainment activities. For 2017, Wanda forecast movie group revenues of $8.53 billion (RMB58.9 billion). It said that it expects to add 2,00 new cinema screens globally, of which 1,200 will be in China.