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Wanda in Talks With ByteDance, Others to Sell Payments Arm

(Bloomberg) -- Dalian Wanda Group Co. is in talks with prospective buyers including ByteDance Ltd. for its Chinese payments unit, as the tourism-to-retail conglomerate tries to shore up its liquidity, people familiar with the matter said.

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Wanda has been in discussions to sell its digital payments license for about 1 billion yuan ($141 million), though some prospective buyers said the price could be lower based on negotiations, the people said, requesting not to be named because the matter is private.

ByteDance’s Douyin Group, which operates its flagship short-video app, had preliminary talks with Wanda about the deal, a Douyin spokesperson said, without offering further comments.

The discussions are preliminary and could be subject to change, the people said. A representative for Wanda didn’t respond to requests for comment.

Billionaire Wang Jianlin’s Wanda has become the latest source of angst in China’s credit market. The company is struggling to avert a liquidity crunch, as it may have to repay investors about 30 billion yuan if it fails to list its mall operation this year.

The mall unit’s initial public offering application lapsed for a third time in April.

The group is also downsizing some business units, cutting staff, and mulling the sale of many as 20 shopping malls in China. It’s in talks with major Chinese banks on loan relief, Bloomberg News reported in May.

Wanda’s payments license could provide data and access to a large number of users who signed up for the service via its malls. Wanda obtained it around 2014 through its purchase of payments firm 99Bill.com. The company was one of the first to get such a permit in China in 2011, along with Alipay.

Digital payment licenses are strictly controlled by the government. ByteDance procured a similar permit via an acquisition in 2020. Short-video and live-streaming rival Kuaishou was reported to buy one through its purchase of Easylink Payment Co.

--With assistance from Emma Dong, Zheping Huang and Amanda Wang.

(Updates with comments from ByteDance confirming talks)

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