Strange accounting trick behind one of China’s largest property deals ever

on Jul12

Board Chairman and President of Dalian Wanda Group Wang Jianlin speaks at the Wanda and AMC press conference on September 4, 2012 in Los Angeles, California.

Joe Scarnici | WireImage| Getty Images

Board Chairman and President of Dalian Wanda Group Wang Jianlin speaks at the Wanda and AMC press conference on September 4, 2012 in Los Angeles, California.

The deal sheds some light on the kind of numbers magic that companies can perform. For instance, Wanda no longer has to record debts associated with those theme parks and hotels; all it has is the bank loan it took out to advance money to Sunac, which is now taking on the property and related leverage.

Think of it this way: You sell your house to your neighbor, but take out a bank loan and give the money to him to make the purchase. You’ll still live there, and pay off your bank loan, but if the whole thing crumbles and needs major renovation, it’s your neighbor’s problem now.

Without further details, it’s difficult for experts and shareholders to surmise the exact nature of the deal beyond back-of-the-envelope calculations. Either way, this financing detail is unusual, and has raised red flags for some.

On Tuesday, S&P Global Ratings said it was placing Sunac’s corporate credit rating under CreditWatch negative given the Wanda acquisition, and an earlier $2 billion investment into flailing Chinese tech firm LeEco.

“Sunac’s financial leverage could further deteriorate following the large land acquisitions and expansion in the non-core segments,” the ratings firm said.

In the long run, Wanda has said the deal with Sunac will help it to reduce its debt pile and that it would be able to repay many other loans. The move is coming at a time when Chinese authorities are more closely scrutinizing corporate finances and loans to companies like Wanda that have made marquee overseas acquisitions. Dalian Wanda is a private firm and there is little transparency over its debt.



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