January 26, 2015 / 9:10 PM / 4 years ago

RPT-UPDATE 1-China's Dalian Wanda to invest $1 bln in Sydney property development

(Repeats story published on Monday; no changes to text)

* Wanda buys two properties near Sydney Harbour

* Follows investment in joint venture on the Gold Coast

* Wanda diversifying away from weak domestic market

By Clare Jim

HONG KONG, Jan 26 (Reuters) - Dalian Wanda Group, China’s biggest commercial real estate conglomerate, said on Monday it is investing $1 billion in a prime property development close to Sydney Harbour, its second large investment in Australia.

The amount includes A$415 million ($327 million) paid to U.S. private equity firm Blackstone Group for office building Gold Fields House, an undisclosed sum for an adjacent building, Fairfax House, as well as the cost to construct a complex that will consist of a hotel, apartments and retail projects.

The purchase adds to a string of deals as Wanda diversifies away from a weak domestic market and highlights growing Chinese investment in Australia’s red-hot property market.

Australia was the third top destination for Chinese property investment after the United States and Britain in the first eleven months of 2014, with around $2.1 billion in inbound investment, according to real estate consultancy firm Savills.

China’s Country Garden Holdings and state-backed Greenland Group have also made large investments in Australia.

Wanda is backed by China’s fourth-richest man Wang Jianlin and last year a group company Dalian Wanda Commercial Properties Co Ltd raised $3.7 billion through a Hong Kong listing. Shares in the Dalian Wanda Commercial were up 3.5 percent in morning trade after the news.

“We look forward to creating a new Sydney landmark,” Wanda said in a separate statement from Blackstone, adding that the complex will include a 185-metre tall building.

The investment is the first in Sydney for Wanda. The group announced in August it would invest $900 million in a joint venture project on the Gold Coast and develop a luxury hotel and service apartments.

Over the past two years, the company has agreed to invest nearly $2 billion in London and Madrid hotels and properties. ($1 = 1.2668 Australian dollars) (Additional reporting by Denny Thomas; Editing by Edwina Gibbs)

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