February 26, 2016 / 10:46 AM / 3 years ago

China's Wanda Group to invest in France's EuropaCity - sources

PARIS, Feb 26 (Reuters) - Chinese billionaire Wang Jianlin’s Dalian Wanda Group plans to invest in a multi-billion euro retail and leisure project outside Paris, as it seeks to expand around the world, sources said on Friday.

The Beijing-based company could announce later in the day it is buying a minority stake in Alliages et Territoires, the company overseeing EuropaCity, a 3.1 billion euro ($3.4 billion)project to be built by 2024, a source close to the matter said on Friday, confirming an earlier report by Les Echos.

A second source said an agreement will be signed on Friday.

Alliages et Territoires is a unit of Immochan, the property unit of French retailer Auchan.

Wanda is known in China for its mega shopping mall projects, theme parks, luxury hotels and cinemas in more than 100 Chinese cities. It owns Wanda Commercial Properties Co, China’s biggest commercial real estate developer.

Wanda’s investment in EuropaCity, its first foray in France, reflects a drive by China’s richest man to diversify his business empire and expand outside his home country.

Wanda has a stake in Spain’s Atletico Madrid soccer club and last month bought U.S. film studio Legendary Entertainment for about $3.5 billion.

EuropaCity will spread over 80 hectares and will include hotels, restaurants, shopping centers and cultural sites as well as parks. Construction will begin in 2019.

It is being built at Gonesse, a town 16 kilometers northeast of Paris, between Le Bourget and Charles de Gaulle airports. It is expected to attract 31 million visits a year and generate 11,800 jobs in the area.

$1 = 0.9079 euros Additional reporting by Jim Clare and Denny Thomas in China; Editing by David Holmes

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