×

China’s Fosun Buys English Soccer Club Wolverhampton Wanderers

Fosun, the Chinese conglomerate that owns part of Jeff Robinov’s Studio 8 and is co-producing Ang Lee’s “Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk,” has joined the crowd of Asian investors buying European sports teams.

Fosun has bought Wolverhampton Wanderers, a team from England’s Midlands region that plays in the Championship, the second tier English league. It finished 14th last year. Nicknamed ‘Wolves,’ the club confirmed the news on its website on Thursday. By late-evening Thursday Fosun International had not notified the Hong Kong Stock Exchange, where its shares are traded.

The club said that the deal gave Fosun 100% ownership following a transfer of assets from the Bridgemere Group. It explained that the deal has already been approved by the English Football League and ratified by its board.

Wolves said that the financial terms of the deal were confidential. It has been widely reported in the past few days that the deal is valued at some $59 million (GBP45 million).

Fosun is headed by Guo Guangchang, a billionaire who is sometimes described as “China’s Warren Buffet.” Guo hit the headlines late last year when he mysteriously disappeared for a few days and was later confirmed as helping Chinese authorities with investigations. No charges have been brought against Guo or Fosun as a result.

Under Guo, Fosun has diversified from chemicals and metals into pharmaceuticals and more recently into insurance, tourism, leisure and entertainment. In addition to its involvement in Studio 8, the group owns a major stake in Cirque du Soileil, a majority of Club Mediterranee, and smaller holdings in British travel firm Thomas Cook and South Korean talent agency SM Group. It recently bought French fashion brand Folli Follie.

In the past two years, Chinese companies have become major buyers of European sports assets, particularly soccer which is massively popular and in which the Chinese government is encouraging major growth. Among the recent deals Dalian Wanda bought a significant minority stake in Spain’s Atletico Madrid, China Media Capital bought a stake in England’s Manchester City and Baidu may be in the process of buying AC Milan.

The deals appear to be motivated by a combination of factors. These include acquiring rights for Chinese domestic streaming video services; transfers of talent, know-how and club championships from Europe to China; glamour and prestige; and the prospect of developing even second tier clubs into major brands and qualifying for international tournaments.

That dream appeared to come true last year for King Power, a duty free retailer from Thailand, which is the major backer of Leicester City. The unfashionable Leicester defied 1,000 to 1 odds to win the English Premier League. Leicester is now set to receive massively larger TV rights revenue as winning in England guarantees it a year of international matches in the pan-European Champions League.

More Biz

  • Bert Salke and Jennifer Salke

    Feds Looked Into Amazon Studios Chief Jennifer Salke in College Admissions Scandal

    Federal investigators looked into Amazon Studios chief Jennifer Salke and her husband, Fox 21 Television Studios president Bert Salke, as they conducted a sprawling probe of cheating in elite college admissions, a source close to the case told Variety. It does not appear, however, that prosecutors will charge the Salkes in the case. The Salkes [...]

  • Variety Cord Cutting Placeholder Cable

    Big Blackout Looms as CBS, AT&T Go Down to Wire on Renewal Talks

    A blackout affecting CBS stations in major markets throughout the country looms as CBS and AT&T executives go down to the wire on negotiations for a retransmission consent deal covering 28 O&O stations. The sides have sparred publicly during the past few days as 11 p.m. PT Friday expiration of the previous contract approached. AT&T [...]

  • Contract Placeholder Business WGA ATA Agent

    ICM Responds to WGA Packaging Lawsuit: Claims are 'Baseless' and 'Absurd'

    ICM Partners has asked a judge to dismiss the lawsuit filed against four major talent agencies by the Writers Guild of America as part of the larger war between agencies and the guild over packaging fees on TV series and movies. The guild sued ICM, CAA, WME and UTA in California state court in April, [...]

  • New York City NYC Placeholder

    CityFM Podcast Takes a Deep Look at New York’s Music Scene (Listen)

    First among the many projects listed at the beginning of New York Music Month in June was a WNYE radio show and podcast called CityFM that promised to “explore the city’s music culture, emerging artists and trends, and upcoming events told through the lens of what’s happening around the city in Summer 2019.” And while [...]

  • Live Nation Logo. (PRNewsFoto/Live Nation)

    Live Nation Confirms Placing Tickets Directly on Secondary Market at Artists’ Request

    Representatives for Live Nation, the world’s largest live-entertainment company and owner of Ticketmaster, confirmed that it bypassed conventional channels and directly placed thousands of concert tickets on the secondary market upon artists’ request, in an article published in Billboard. In a statement shared with Variety, the company acknowledged that it has facilitated the transfer of [...]

  • Costume designer Michele Clapton

    Costume Designers Fashion a Plan to Fight for Pay Parity in Upcoming Contract Talks

    The Costume Designers Guild Local 892 is gearing up to fight for pay equity in its 2021 contract negotiations with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, establishing a pay-equity committee to raise awareness of the scale disparity between the mostly female CDG membership and the mostly male membership of the Art Directors Guild Local [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content