Business / Industries

Private equity firm expands sports reach

By Sun Xiaochen (China Daily) Updated: 2016-01-22 08:25

Shanghai-based CMC Holdings follows up on $400m investment in City Football Group of Abu Dhabi

China Media Capital Holdings has invested $100 million in sports management and marketing company SECA - the Shanghai-based private equity firm's latest move into the sports industry.

CMC bought the media rights to the Chinese Super League for 8 billion yuan ($1.2 billion) in October, which will allow it to control coverage of China's top-tier soccer league for the next five years.

It also recently led a consortium which invested $400 million in the Abu Dhabi-based City Football Group that owns Manchester City Football Club, a powerhouse in the English Premier League.

Li Ruigang, its chairman, said on Thursday that China's sports-related industries have entered "a golden era".

"In the near future, homegrown sporting events, brands and talent will become valuable resources in the burgeoning global market, and SECA has emerged as an ideal partner to develop those properties together."

Li Sheng, the founder and CEO of SECA, said the new financial support will allow it to better operate and promote the athletes it represents, sporting events it owns, and sports-entertainment contents it creates.

He said the government has already called for sports-related businesses to expand from just goods manufacturing, into other sports-related activities such as sponsorship, merchandise and ticketing.

But he added it's now time to dig even deeper, to further develop China's sports assets.

"Sport used to be only about one thing in China - to earn glory for your country. But by operating events and promoting stars properly, it could generate much more than we ever expected," said Li, who started SECA in 2010.

The business currently manages more than 200 Chinese athletes - including two-time Olympic champion boxer Zou Shiming, Winter Olympic champion figure skating pair Shen Xue and Zhao Hongbo - and operates a series of events.

The government issued a blueprint in October 2014 to grow the country's sports market, planning to increase the total value to 5 trillion yuan by 2025 when it is expected to account for about 1 percent of GDP compared with 0.63 percent in 2013.

The national call has inspired an investment spree in sports properties highlighted by real estate and entertainment conglomerate Dalian Wanda Group Co's $49 million purchase of a 20 percent stake in Spanish soccer club Atletico Madrid and its $1.15 billion takeover of Swiss sports marketing group Infront Sports and Media last year.

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