Wanda chair denies English club deal

By Chen Tian Source:Global Times Published: 2014-1-20 23:43:01

Photo: IC

Property and entertainment conglomerate Dalian Wanda Group on Monday denied that its billionaire chairman Wang Jianlin is interested in buying English football club Southampton.

The British newspaper Daily Mirror reported on Saturday that Wang was lining up 175 million pounds ($287.62 million) to bid for the club in an effort to break into the local market.

Wang told the Beijing News Sunday that the Daily Mirror's report was "sheer fiction," adding that no one in Dalian Wanda has ever gotten in touch with Southampton and the company has not asked any third-party person or institution to discuss a purchase deal with the English Football Club.

A PR staff member for Dalian Wanda told the Global Times Monday that the Beijing News report was true.

Dalian Wanda is not new to soccer and has a strong association with the sport in China. The company signed a three-year deal with the Chinese Football Association to become the name sponsor of the Chinese Super League in 2011.

Before that, Dalian Wanda Football Club that the company endorsed, based in Dalian in Northeast China's Liaoning Province, set a 55-game unbeaten record and won the country's top league four times from 1994 to 1998.

Yu Mingyang, dean of the Institute of Chinese Enterprises Development of Shanghai Jiao Tong University, told the Global Times Monday that many cash-rich Chinese enterprises are financially capable of owning foreign sports teams.

"But the companies cannot make profits by spending money and investing in foreign soccer clubs. They also need to learn about the Westerners' understandings of the sports and change their way of management to a Western style," Yu said.

"The first step is to manage the teams well, which is the prerequisite to making money," he noted.

Dalian Wanda, which stated on its website it owns 380 billion yuan ($62.77 billion) of assets and expects to make a 12.5 billion yuan of net profit in 2013, operates 85 shopping malls and 51 luxury hotels in China.

The company started investing in the UK since last year, buying 92 percent of the UK luxury yacht maker Sunseeker International for 320 million pounds  in June.

The firm also announced that it would build a five-star hotel along the river Thames between Vauxhall and Battersea on London's "new South Bank" as part of a 700 million pound investment.

Dalian Wanda is reportedly trying to seek more funding to fuel its domestic and global expansion.

Wang said at a company meeting on Saturday that it will get two of its business units listed in 2014 without releasing more details, Beijing Business Today reported Monday.

The company's cinema and commercial real estate units, which have both been queuing for an IPO in the Chinese mainland for years, are the most possible businesses that might get listed this year, the newspaper said.

The Dalian Wanda's PR refused to comment on the IPOs when contacted by Global Times.

Many Chinese companies have accumulated massive cash reserves from their business in China, and have significant experience in buying tangible foreign product lines, Yu said.

Chinese carmaker Zhejiang Geely Holdings Group, for example, acquired Volvo from Ford in 2010.

"As Chinese companies have learned how to deal with foreign companies by purchasing tangible products, they are going to move on to purchase foreign cultural and sports product lines to further their presence abroad," Yu said.

Wanda's involvement in football

Wanda establishes Dalian Wanda Football Club

1998 Wanda withdraws from the Chinese league after controversially losing the 1998 CFA Cup semifinal to Liaoning Tianrun

2011 Wanda signs a three-year deal with the Chinese Football Association (CFA) to become the name sponsor of the Chinese Super League (CSL)

2012 Wanda sets up the Beijing Wanda Football Club

Posted in: Companies

blog comments powered by Disqus