BEIJING, Sept 6 (Reuters) - Dalian Wanda Commercial Properties Co. has signed a cooperation deal with Suning Commerce Group Co. Ltd that will see the electronics retailer open stores at Wanda Plazas throughout the country.
Suning, in which Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. last month took a 19.99 percent stake for $4.6 billion, plans to open 40 stores at Wanda locations by year's end with more to follow. It currently operates 1,600 outlets throughout the country.
For Wanda Commercial, which expects to raise the total number of plazas to 135 by the end of the year from more than 100 now, Suning's presence may provide a large commercial tenant with the potential to drive retail sales in a slowing economy.
"It's a win-win for both sides," Wang Jianlin, chairman of Dalian Wanda Group, Wanda Commercial's controlling shareholder, said at the signing ceremony on Sunday.
Dalian Wanda Group, headed by China's richest man, has been exiting some traditional businesses in a bid to become a fully diversified services-led conglomerate. It expects services revenue and profit to surpass property for the first time in 2016.
In August, Wanda said it was closing down the country's largest karaoke chain, Superstar, along with some of its struggling department stores.
"China's consumer behaviour is undergoing significant changes, inevitably hurting some large-scale retailers," Qu Dejun, president of Wanda Commercial, had said in a statement at the time.
Dalian Wanda Group, which operates the biggest movie theatre chain in China and AMC Entertainment Holdings in the United States, has recently turned its attention to sports.
In August, Wanda Group signed a deal to buy World Triathlon Corp, organizer of the Ironman Triathlon races, from U.S. fund Providence Equity Partners LLC for what the seller said amounted to $900 million including debt.
The company in February also agreed to buy Swiss sports-marketing company Infront Sports & Media AG, which holds World Cup broadcast rights in Asia and the broadcast rights to major winter sports around the globe.
Wanda Group and Suning are also looking to deepen cooperation on the development of e-commerce and get greater traction from combining their offline and online activities. The cooperation deal will allow for the two sides to leverage shared resources, Suning Chairman Zhang Jindong said in a statement.
Last year, Wanda and Tencent Holdings Ltd agreed to set up a 5 billion yuan e-commerce joint venture with Baidu Inc to broaden their online reach. Wanda is also leading a $1 billion investment in a travel website.