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Wanda Sues Over ‘False’ Reports on Chairman Wang Jianlin

 

Wanda Sues Over ‘False’ Reports on Chairman Wang Jianlin

BEIJING—Dalian Wanda Group, the property and entertainment giant controlled by billionaire Wang Jianlin, has filed defamation suits against at least 10 Chinese social media accounts that published reports the company says sent its shares and bonds tumbling.

According to a copy of one lawsuit reviewed by The Wall Street Journal, Wanda is taking issue with claims that Mr. Wang was detained by police at Tianjin’s airport last month and barred from leaving China.

The lawsuit said the social media report was false but widely read and forwarded online, “triggering a market panic” that led to a drop in Wanda’s bond prices and a nearly 10% decline in the shares of its publicly listed unit in Hong Kong, according to Wanda’s lawsuit.

The article also hurt Wanda’s reputation, ability to obtain financing and led to the stagnation of its investment projects, according to the lawsuit.

The other lawsuits make similar claims, according to a person familiar with the matter. In a statement, Wanda said the suits have been accepted by Chinese courts and that it is seeking 5 million yuan (765,000) in damages as well as a public apology from the social media accounts. RELATED Wanda Dismisses Reports Chairman Wang Jian lin Can’t Leave China(Aug.28,2017) Beijing Investigates Loans to China′s Top Overseas Deal Makers(June22,2017) China′s Dalian Wanda Buys Legendary Entertainment for 3.5 Billion (Jan. 12, 2016)

In the suit that was reviewed by the Journal, Wanda is also seeking data on the post from Tencent Holdings Ltd., which operates China’s largest social-media network. A Tencent spokeswoman didn’t immediately reply to a request for comment.

Wu Xiaowei, one of the defendants named by Wanda, said in an interview that he was merely sharing reports he had read elsewhere in social media, and later deleted them from his microblog account.

Mr. Wu, 46, of Beijing said he follows Wanda closely because he is a shareholder in Wanda Film Holding Co., the company’s publicly listed unit in Shenzhen.

“I don’t want bad news about Wanda; all my money is in Wanda,” he said. After learning of the lawsuit, he posted an apology to Wanda on his microblog account, which has about 37,000 followers.

The other defendants named by Wanda didn’t immediately reply to a request for comment.

James Zimmerman, managing partner in the Beijing office of law firm Sheppard, Mullin, Richter & Hampton LLP, said the lawsuit serves as a reminder that even individuals need to be careful with what they post on social media.

“The small guy may not have the resources or legal firepower to fight back against a politically connected and financially strong conglomerate,” Mr. Zimmerman said. “Unfortunately, some of the more unsophisticated individuals using social media, compared with traditional news providers, are unaware of the potential legal implications.”

Wanda and other companies, including Anbang Insurance Group Co., HNA Group Co. and Fosun International , are under scrutiny by Chinese regulators for overseas acquisitions as China seeks to stem an outflow of capital. Wanda’s $3.5 billion acquisition of Hollywood production company Legendary Entertainment is one of the deals under a spotlight.

Last year, Wanda won a case against a microblog that posted an article claiming to be written by Mr. Wang. Wanda sought 10 million yuan in damages but was awarded only 75,000 yuan, according to a local media report.

 

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