Wang Jianlin is Asia’s wealthiest person and a man with “Napoleonic ambition,” according to The Economist magazine. From building Disney-goading theme parks to snapping up Hollywood movie studios, we reveal how this mega-driven real estate and entertainment tycoon is taking on the world.
Click ahead to see how China’s richest man is buying up the world.
Jianlin, who was born in 1954 in Guangyuan in northeast China, spent 16 years in the People’s Liberation Army before he embarked upon his stellar business career.
Quitting the army in 1986, Jianlin briefly worked as an office administrator for the city of Dalian before he was transferred to state-owned real estate company Dalian Wanda in 1988.
Jianlin quickly worked his way up to become chairman of the company, overseeing surging growth and the transfer of the firm into private ownership during the ’90s.
Since the ’90s, Dalian Wanda has grown from a medium-sized real estate firm to the world’s biggest private property developer and owner, as well as the planet’s largest cinema chain operator.
The group’s property division Dalian Wanda Commercial Properties was floated on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange in December 2014. The most lucrative real estate IPO in history, it netted Jianlin a cool $25 billion.
The division has since reverted to private ownership. In September, Dalian Wanda bought back the division for $4.4 billion, citing concerns that shares at the IPO had been undervalued. The company hopes to take the division public again within the next two years.
RICHEST MAN IN CHINA
Overtaking Alibaba’s Jack Ma (pictured on the right) to become China and Asia’s richest man earlier this year, Jianlin’s net worth stands at $32.8 billion, according to Forbes.
A domestic real estate and entertainment giant, Dalian Wanda owns and operates two major theme parks, 1,247 cinema screens, 134 shopping malls, 99 department stores, 84 karaoke centers and 82 luxury hotels throughout China.
Jianlin is reported to rule Dalian Wanda with an iron fist — he did spend 16 years in the military after all — and employees are alleged to have been fired on the spot for minor infractions, such as poor timekeeping and flouting the company’s strict dress code.
Since 2005, Dalian Wanda has focused on diversifying its portfolio and moving away from domestic property investment, to boosting its entertainment businesses at home, as well as acquiring real estate and entertainment companies overseas.
In 2013, Dalian Wanda forked out $390 million for a majority stake in British high-end yacht manufacturer Sunseeker International.
SPANISH REAL ESTATE
A year later, Jianlin bought Madrid’s Edificio España, one of the Spanish capital’s most iconic buildings for the bargain price of $142 million.