OGC Nice and Newcastle Jets complete Chinese takeovers

OGC Nice and Newcastle Jets complete Chinese takeovers
French soccer club OGC Nice, and Australian soccer side Newcastle Jets have become the latest global clubs to be taken over by Chinese investment.

Nice, a French Ligue 1 mainstay since 1997, have been taken over by Alex Zheng, president of hotel company Plateno Group, and Chien Lee, founder and chief executive of NewCity Capital, a private equity firm.

The pair has been joined by American’s Paul Conway and Elliot Hayes in taking an 80 percent stake in the club.

The club’s current president, Jean-Pierre Rivere, will retain his 20 percent stake, and will remain in charge of the team, alongside general director Julien Fournier,  for a the following three years.

“Their arrival secures the future of the club,” said Rivere, speaking at a press conference to announce the takeover.

“Thanks to Chinese and American investment, OGC Nice will scale new peaks and will continue to grow,” he added.

Elsewhere, financially troubled Hyundai A-League side Newcastle Jets have been bought out by Chinese LED manufacturer Ledman.

Martin Lee, chairman of Ledman and the new majority stakeholder and owner of the club, reportedly paid just AU$ 5 million (US$ 3.67 million), but has taken on substantial debts left by former owner Nathan Tinkler.

Lee has already said that plans are in place for the Jets to play in China in August of this year, and is targeting Asian dominance as well as domestic Australian success.

“Now in China, football is booming, and it’s going in a very good direction,” Lee said in a statement.

“We already have local professional teams, and we need several overseas soccer teams to follow as well.”

Both deals come amid widespread Chinese investment in global soccer. Earlier this month, major Chinese retailer Suning Group acquired a 69 per cent stake in famous Italian side Inter Milan, while 2016 has seen Dalian Wanda buy a 20 per cent share in La Liga side Atletico Madrid, Dr Tony Xia purchase relegated English side Aston Villa, and Hong Kong-based Rastar Group acquire a majority share in Spanish side Granada CF.

It is also reported that Serie A side AC Milan are on the cusp of a Chinese takeover, although no concrete details are yet known.

All of the deals come after China’s domestic soccer league, the Chinese Super League (CSL), emerged as the highest spending league in the world last year amid major European transfers, while China’s President Xi Jinping has pledged to create a sports industry in the country worth US$760 billion by 2025.

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