Caixin
Feb 14, 2017 06:52 AM
BUSINESS & TECH

Head of Wanda’s E-Commerce Arm Quit, Source Says

(Beijing) – Li Jinling, the chief executive officer of the e-commerce division of Dalian Wanda Group, has left amid the property giant’s bumpy journey to expand into online shopping, a person close to Wanda told Caixin Monday.

Wanda, controlled by China’s richest businessman, Wan Jianlin, hasn’t confirmed the leadership change in its e-commerce arm.

Li has been in the post since February 2016, coming to Wanda after serving as CEO of an online travel service provider, Mangocity.com. He is the third e-commerce CEO hired by Wanda since its entry into the new business in 2012.

Wanda’s e-commerce division operates Ffan.com, a site it set up in August 2014 in partnership with online search engine giant Baidu Inc. and messaging service provider Tencent Holdings. Wanda held 70% of the venture with initial investment of 5 billion yuan ($727 million), according to the Wanda.

Unlike other e-commerce sites such as Alibaba Group’s Tmall.com, Ffan.com focused on linking shoppers with vendors and service providers in more than 180 of Wanda’s shopping malls across the country. Ffan.com planned services to help shoppers find goods and merchants manage data and payments.

But the partnership didn’t last long. According to Ffan.com’s July 2016 business registration record, Baidu and Tencent withdrew from Ffan.com and were replaced by a Wanda subsidiary.

The source close to the company told Caixin that over the years Wanda has shifted the focus of its e-commerce strategy to building a platform to serve merchants with payment, customer service, big data and cloud computing. But the company hasn’t worked out a sustainable profit model for Ffan.com, the source said.

To reach those goals, Wanda has merged 99bill.com, a mobile payment service provider it acquired in 2014, into Ffan.com and invested last year in a smart parking service provider, ETCP to allow Ffan.com users to pay parking fees online in partner malls.

According to Wanda, by the end of 2016, Ffan.com had 150 million active users and arranged partnerships with 1,799 large shopping malls and 100,000 small merchants, as well as cinemas and restaurants.

While the e-commerce business is far smaller than that of Alibaba and other e-commerce giants, Wang said in mid-January at an internal meeting that Ffan.com plans to raise 10 billion yuan this year and turn a profit by 2018. Wang said he expected Ffan.com to make an initial public offering by 2020.

Wanda’s foray into e-commerce is part of the company’s transformation, initiated by Wang in 2014, to diversify its business away from real estate and into commerce, culture, internet and finance. Those four pillars contributed 55% of Wanda’s revenue last year, Wang said at the January meeting.

Wanda has pushed into new businesses through active acquisitions around the globe over the past few years, including Legendary Entertainment of the U.S. and European cinema chain Odeon & UCI Cinemas Group.

Overseas media outlets reported Monday that Wanda is seeking to buy Germany's Deutsche Postbank as it expands into financial industry. Wanda denied the report in a statement published on its website.

Contact reporter Han Wei (weihan@caixin.com)

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