China Media Capital Holdings and Citic Capital buy stake in Manchester City group

Chinese investors are paying $400m (€378m) for a stake in the group that owns soccer clubs including Manchester City and New York City FC, the country’s most significant overseas investment in the game.

China Media Capital Holdings and Citic Capital buy stake in Manchester City group

The consortium is led by China Media Capital Holdings (CMC) and Citic Capital and will take a stake of more than 13% in City Football Group.

The deal values the Abu Dhabi-owned City Football Group at $3bn (€2.83bn), it said yesterday.

Citic Capital is not linked to Citic Bank, which was held last year in the investment portfolio of the Ireland Strategic Investment Fund, an NTMA spokesman said.

The new investors will seek to expand the sport in China, where president Xi Jinping is an avid fan who wants to host the World Cup one day and make the underperforming national team more competitive.

Xi visited a state-of-the-art academy which the City Football Group has set up for young players in Manchester during a visit to Britain in late October.

City Football Group will issue new shares in addition to those owned by Sheikh Mansour’s Abu Dhabi United Group.

Investment from Sheikh Mansour has transformed the fortunes of Manchester City since 2008, and the club won the English Premier League in 2012 and 2014.

Ruigang Li, chairman of state-backed media company CMC, will join the board of the City Football Group.

“We see unprecedented growth opportunities in both its development as an industry, being China’s most watched sport,” he said.

CMC already owns a slate of sports media rights, including for Chinese Super League soccer in a deal reportedly worth over $1bn and the national teams.

The Chinese investment is the latest foreign backing for a club in English soccer.

Manchester United are controlled by the American Glazer family and also have a valuation of around $3bn.

Arsenal and Liverpool are also owned by Americans, while Russian Roman Abramovich is Chelsea owner.

Chinese property group Dalian Wanda this year bought a 20% stake in Atletico Madrid.

The deal shows interest in soccer as an investment, as the value of television rights soars.

“It’s about creating a Chinese infrastructure for football and acquiring competencies,” said Simon Chadwick, professor of sports enterprise at Salford University.

The Manchester City owners have built up a network of linked clubs around the world.

City Football Group includes New York City FC, Melbourne City FC, and a stake in Japan’s Yokohama F Marinos.

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