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Nice move! Chinese investors grab stake in French soccer club

(Xinhua) Updated: 2016-06-14 07:38

Nice move! Chinese investors grab stake in French soccer club

Nice's French forward Hatem Ben Arfa (2nd L) celebrates after scoring a second penalty during the French L1 football match between Nice (OGC) and Angers (ASCO) on January 15, 2016 at the Allianz Rivier stadium in Nice, southeastern France. [Photo/VCG]

A group of Chinese and American investors have bought an 80 percent stake in French soccer club OGC Nice, the club announced late on Friday.

The club plays in French Ligue 1, the top-tier of French soccer.

The two key investors are Alex Zheng, president of Plateno Group, a hotels company, and Chien Lee, founder and chief executive of NewCity Capital, the club said.

The other partners are Paul Conway, who represents the Pacific Media Group, and Elliot Hayes, both from the United States.

Jean-Pierre, the club's president Rivere will retain a 20 percent stake in the club. With Julien Fournier, the general director, Rivere will continue managing the club for three years.

The club did not disclose the break-down of individual stakes or the size of the deal.

Also known as Olympique Gymnaste Club Nice Côte d'Azur, the Nice-based club was founded in 1904. It plays its home matches at the Allianz Riviera.

In the 2015-2016 season, the French club ranked fourth after winning 63 points. The last time the four-time winner won the Ligue 1 title was in 1959.

"Our investor group is delighted to partner with Jean-Pierre Rivere and the management team to support the OGC Nice project. The club has developed a formidable platform for the future."

"Between the passion of its fans, its world-class stadium and future training center, the infrastructure is in place to achieve the management team's vision. We are also enthused by the hospitality of the city (Nice) and its administration," said Lee, who becomes chairman of the supervisory board.

"New investors have been attracted to our project as well as the opportunities offered by OGC Nice and the French Riviera, especially in tourism, real estate, and hospitality that are the heart of their business. Moreover, China is an extremely fertile ground from a commercial point of view, especially as it awakens to the beauty of soccer," said Rivere.

"Their (Chinese and US investors') arrival secures the future of the club and will provide the additional resources for continuation of our vision. While keeping its identity and guidance, OGC Nice will gradually reach new heights."

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

The past few months have seen a flurry of Chinese investments in European sports-clubs and rights-holders.

Last week, noted Hong Kong investor Paul Suen proposed to buy at least 60 percent of England's Birmingham City soccer team by taking over parent company Birmingam International from convicted fraudster Carson Yeung.

Another Birmingham-based team, Aston Villa, is in talks with another Chinese businessman Tony Xia about a takeover. Attractive in both cases is the possibility of promotion to the English Premiere League, the richest soccer league in the world.

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