The Chinese are coming. With money. Loads and loads of it. A consortium led by China Everbright Ltd. has lined up a bid for a major stake in Liverpool Football Club. The bid, if successful, would mark one of the most high profile Chinese backed soccer investments to date. The Liverpool owners, whilst not in dire need of cash, are reportedly willing to listen to this offer.
Prior to this interest in Liverpool, Chinese money have already been floating around in European football clubs – we take you through the swathe of clubs currently owned by Chinese money.
Atletico Madrid is owned by majority shareholder Miguel Ángel Gil Marín (52%) but Wang Jianlin has a 20% stake. Wang makes his fortunes through the Wanda Group, a multinational conglomerate which started out as a property developer. Wang is widely regarded as the richest man in China and Asia.
RCD Espanyol is the smaller club from the city of Barcelona and is 56% owned by Rastar Group, a Shenzhen-listed company. The conglomerate started out as a plastics producer and has since ventured successfully into toy making, online gaming, TV and film production.
Inter Milan was previously owned by Indonesian tycoon Erick Thohir who sold his majority share to Zhang Ji Dong. Zhang owns Suning, yet another conglomerate which is a renowned online merchant of electronic goods in China. Eagle-eyed readers will find this name familiar – Chinese club side Jiangsu Suning is owned by the same company / businessman.
Manchester City is of course controlled by the oil-rich investors of Abu Dhabi but 13% of it is owned by China Media Capital (CMC) group, a public entity and venture capital arm of China International Trust and Investment Corporation (CITIC), China’s state-owned wealth fund.
FC Sochaux-Montbéliard last won the French Championship in 1938 and currently plays in the second tier but has managed to secure a buyout from Ledus group from Hong Kong. Ledus makes and exports LED lights.
Aston Villa has suffered years of mismanagement under American Randy Lerner and can look forward to a new era under Tony Xia of the Recon Group. Recon makes their millions from investments on IT, healthcare, agriculture and engineering companies.
Wolverhampton Wanderers, much like their rivals Aston Villa, can look forward to a new era of investments from Fosun International, a company that began life as a market research firm and is now a conglomerate with healthcare and property investments.
The third Midlands side, West Bromwich Albion, was sold to Lai Guochuan in Sept 2016. Lai made his millions from a landscaping firm but has since shifted his attention to private equity investments.