(Bloomberg) -- Private equity firm PAG is considering buying Dalian Wanda Group Co.’s shopping mall properties, according to people familiar with the matter.

PAG could raise a fund and bring in other investors for a transaction that may value the real estate assets at as much as 100 billion yuan ($13.8 billion), the people said, asking not to be identified discussing confidential information. 

A deal would make PAG the owner of properties that it manages, following an agreement in March when it acquired control of Zhuhai Wanda Commercial Management Group Co., the unit that runs the day-to-day operations of the malls. Meanwhile, by disposing of the real estate assets, Wanda could raise cash to pay down debt and reduce leverage, the people said. 

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Deliberations are preliminary and details such as the value of the assets aren’t set, according to the people.

A Wanda representative declined to comment. PAG didn’t respond to queries. 

In March, a PAG-led consortium that included Citic Capital, funds linked to Ares Management, the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority and Mubadala Investment Co. agreed to invest about $8.3 billion for a 60% stake in Wanda Commercial Management’s holding company, Newland Commercial Management.

The March deal wasn’t reflected in Dalian Wanda’s latest quarterly results, Bloomberg Intelligence analysts Andrew Chan and Lisa Zhou said earlier this month, noting that the company’s cash on hand hasn’t moved higher, nor have its other short-term liabilities of more than 60 billion yuan come down. A potential sale of the shopping malls could mean Wanda’s liquidity is much tighter than thought, Chan and Zhou wrote in a note Friday.

Wang Jianlin ceded control of Wanda’s mall operation unit in December after plans to list the company didn’t materialize. The company then sold four malls for 1.4 billion yuan, Caixin reported in January, a move that BI’s Chan and Zhou said could indicate weak asset valuations and “a tough road ahead.”

Despite the reported price for the four properties, the average value of a Wanda mall is about 1.5 billion yuan, according to Chan and Zhou, “so it remains to be seen whether Wanda is conducting a fire sale,” they said in March. 

Newland operates 496 shopping malls in 230 Chinese cities and describes itself as the world’s largest shopping mall management company. 

--With assistance from Emma Dong.

(Adds latest comments from BI analysts in seventh paragraph.)

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