The Real Deal New York

Dalian Wanda, China’s largest developer, closes NYC office

Chief US representative Sean Muellers to leave Wanda as part of "reorganization"

October 02, 2015 10:16AM
By Konrad Putzier

From left: 1330 Sixth Avenue and Wang Jianlin

From left: 1330 Sixth Avenue and Wang Jianlin

UPDATED, Oct. 2, 11:10 a.m.: The Dalian Wanda Group, China’s largest commercial real estate developer, is closing its New York office by November 30 and will run its U.S. operations from Beijing.

Wanda occupied a small office at RXR Realty’s and Blackstone Group’s 1330 Sixth Avenue. It wasn’t immediately clear why the Beijing-based company is leaving the Big Apple, or whether the step has any impact on its investments here.

Sean Muellers, Wanda’s chief U.S. representative, will leave the firm after three years at the end of November, according to an email sent out to colleagues and business partners, a copy of which TRD obtained. “Due to a corporate reorganization, Wanda’s New York Representative Office will be closing by November 30th,” Muellers wrote. “Please note that all US investment activity going forward will be managed directly from Beijing.”

In 2012, Wanda bought the AMC movie theater chain for $2.6 billion. Last year, it announced a $1.2 billion mixed-use development in Beverly Hills and acquired a development site in Chicago with plans to develop a $900 million mixed-use tower.

Unlike rival Chinese developers like Greenland Holdings, China Vanke or Soho China, Wanda has no stake in major New York real estate projects. In 2013, Reuters reported that the firm wanted to build a $1 billion hotel in Manhattan, but the plans apparently never came to fruition. Sources told TRD that Wanda was recently looking to buy hotel development sites in major U.S. cities, including New York.

Wanda has $85.6 billion in assets under management and is owned by China’s richest man, Wang Jianlin. Like other major Chinese developers, the firm was hit by the recent slump in the Chinese housing market. In June it announced a “strategic alliance” with China Vanke.

Wanda and Vanke “have been disciplined,” Borja Sierra, U.S. head of capital markets at Savills Studley, told TRD in June. “They’ve said no to a lot of opportunities. They don’t only want to have an asset. They want to buy the right place.”

Dalian Wanda Group could not be reached for comment.