SHANGHAI Oct 17 Chinese conglomerate Dalian
Wanda has hired a senior former Walt Disney Co executive
to lead its theme park business, a person with direct knowledge
of the matter told Reuters on Monday, ramping up the rivalry
between the two firms.
Wanda, which is planning to build dozens of entertainment
complexes and theme parks around China, has hired Andrew Kam to
lead its charge in the market. Kam was the managing director of
Hong Kong Disneyland Resort until earlier this year.
"He is hired as the Vice President of Wanda culture group
and will be the head of the theme park business line," the
person said, asking not to be identified because he was not
authorized to speak to the media on the matter.
Wanda's head Wang Jianlin, a billionaire property tycoon and
China's richest man, took aim at Disney earlier this year saying
the iconic U.S. firm's newly opened Shanghai resort would not be
able to compete with his "wolf pack" of parks.
Wanda, which is pushing hard in sectors including film,
sports and entertainment, plans to build at least 20 theme parks
and leisure complexes around China, Wang told Reuters in August.
Wanda declined to comment, while Disney did not immediately
respond to requests for comment on the move.
Disney announced Andrew Kam's departure from its Hong Kong
resort in March amid a slump in profits for the park, a joint
venture with the local government that is 47 percent owned by
Disney. Kam led the Hong Kong resort from 2008.
Disney opened a $5.5 billion park in Shanghai in June, its
first in mainland China, as it looks to tap China's fast-growing
middle class, but faces stern competition from local rivals
(Reporting by Adam Jourdan)