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Alibaba’s Jack Ma and Wanda’s Wang Jianlin Invest in LeTV Sports

Chinese media moguls, Jack Ma and Wang Jianlin are backing new sports rights venture LeTV Sports in a $129 million funding round.

Jack Ma is the founder and chairman of Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba. Wang Jianlin is the founder of property to entertainment group Wanda, and was last week confirmed as Asia’s richest man with a personal net worth of $49 million.

LeTV Sports, a spin off from online video firm LeShi Internet Information, handles broadcast and media rights to 120 events in 12 sports categories and has 4,000 matches for live broadcast. The company is also involved in program production. Events include Champions Cup and soccer’s China Women’s Super League.

Wang’s Wanda Investment led LeTV Sports’ ‘A round’ of funding. Ma’s personal investment pool Yunfeng Fund led the A+ funding round. Other second round investors included Fortune Link, Prometheus Capital. Between them they put up $128 million, giving the venture an implied valuation of $451 million. The new investments mean that Leshi drops to 10% ownership.

“The business model of Letv Sports accords to our philosophy of investment. We will help Letv Sports become a world-class enterprise by providing all sorts of support, not only in capital investment but also in fostering better company management, development strategies and brand building,” said Jessica Xia, MD of Yunfeng Capital, in a statement.

Having expanded from property into cinema, Wanda has recently made a push into sports and sports rights. In December it bought a 20% stake in Spanish soccer club Atletico Madrid. In February Wanda came up with a much larger acquisition, the Euros1.2 billion purchase of Switzerland-based sports marketing agency Infront.

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