Chinese Companies Looking into Investing in European Soccer Clubs
Two of the top soccer clubs in Italy, AC Milan and rival Inter Milan have been approached by Chinese groups looking for a stake or offering for a strategic partnership. In some say could be the latest Chinese foray into European soccer, a 12 person group from Suning Commerce Group one of the largest privately owned retailers in China has visited Inter Milan led by its chairman Zhang Jindong. AC Milan also received several expressions of interest from several chines groups according o former Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi who is the chairman of the club and Fininvest the holding company of AC Milan.
Italy’s newspaper La Repubblica said that Jack Ma Alibaba’s founder is leading a groups that is planning to acquire 70 percent stake in AC Milan with an option to acquire the remaining 30 percent in the next couple of years. Ma together with his associates have agreed to pay 400 million euros for the 70 percent stake. The recent moves to Milan clubs is part of the effort by Chinese interest in investing in European soccer. Since China is heavily pursuing its sports industry and soccer goals, it is likely that there will be more European club acquisitions. Purchasing a European soccer club is one way of learning how to run all aspects of the game, which also generates revenue. In another level buying a club contributes to a diversified business portfolio that aligns with the conglomeration of Chinese entertainment business.
Strong Chinese interest in European soccer is part of an ambition spearheaded by President XI Jinping to raise the quality of soccer in China with plans to win a World Cup bid and winning the tournament. One of the most prominent acquisitions is the purchase of a 13 percent stake of Manchester City soccer club worth $400 million by China Media Capital and CITIC Capital plus 20 percent shares in the Spaish soccer club Atletico Madrid that was bought by Chinese Billionaire Wan Jianlin of Dalian Wanda. Chinese interest in Serie A clubs in inevitable as the country’s positive predisposition to Italian soccer as it was among the first leagues that screened in China in the 1980s.