HEY MICKEY

China’s Wanda Group has hired the ex-head of Hong Kong Disneyland to help it crush Disney

Obsession
China's Transition
Obsession
China's Transition

One of China’s richest men, Wang Jianlin—who presides over an entertainment empire that includes cinemas in the US and theme parks—recently threw down the gauntlet and declared war on Disneyland. To do that, he’s hired the former boss of Hong Kong Disneyland to run its theme park business.

Andrew Kam, former managing director of Hong Kong Disneyland, will join Wang’s conglomerate Wanda Group, state-run digital publication the Paper reported (link in Chinese) on Oct. 17, citing unidentified sources. Quartz confirmed Kam’s appointment with two sources familiar with the matter. Wanda representatives declined to comment on the news.

Disney is facing an uphill battle with its biggest theme-park rival in China, which plans to build 15 amusement park complexes in China before 2020. Wang said in a recent TV interview that he’ll make mainland China’s first Disneyland, which opened in Shanghai in June, “unprofitable in the coming two decades.”

Kam headed Hong Kong Disneyland for eight years, before he resigned in March “for personal reasons.” Under his stewardship, the decade-old theme park turned a profit for the first time in 2012, but fell into the red again in 2015 due to a drop in mainland Chinese visitors.

Wanda has so far opened two theme park complexes in China, the first in the southeastern city of Nanchang and the other in Hefei in the east. Both cities are within a four-hour train ride of Shanghai.

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