(Yicai Global) Aug. 8 -- In the latest in a series of take-overs, Italian football club AC Milan, English Premier League club West Bromwich Albion and France's AJA Football SAOS each sold themselves to Chinese investors on Aug. 5.
Potential huge financial rewards in winning clubs has spurred a frenzy of acquisitions of European football clubs by Chinese investors.
Fininvest SpA, an Italian holding company controlled by the Silvio Berlusconi family that owns AC Milan, agreed to sell 99.93 percent shares of the football club to EU-China Sports Investment Management Changxing Co., Ltd. for EUR740 million (USD820.65 million). The remaining 0.07 percent of shares will be held by the Berlusconi family. The Chinese syndicate is made up of a group of investors, including China's state investment fund Haixia Capital Management Co.
On the same day, West Bromwich Albion Holdings Ltd., parent company of the West Brom premier league club, agreed to sell 88 percent of its shares to Yunyi Guokai (Shanghai) Sports Development Co., Ltd. a sports industry fund run by landscape design firm Palm Eco-Town Development Co. [SHE:002431], making it the first English Premier League team to have a Chinese controlling shareholder.
This was swiftly followed by Beijing-based ring-pull can manufacturer O.R.G. Packaging Co. [SHE:002701] which said it plans to raise EUR7 million (USD7.76 million) to acquire 59.95 percent of the equity in French football club, AJA Football SAOS, in order to tap into the sport's great development potential.
These deals come swiftly on the heels of several other Chinese take-overs of European football clubs. So far this year, Foshun International Ltd. has agreed to fully acquire the UK's Wolverhampton Wanderers for GBP45 million (USD59 million), Rastar Group Co. has bought 54 percent equity in Spain's Real Club Desportivo Espanyol for EUR60 million (USD65.94 million), the UK's Aston Villa was fully acquired by the Recon Group for GBP60 million and Suning Commerce Group purchased 70 percent equity in Italy's Inter Milan for the price of EUR270 million.