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China’s LeSports Raises $1.2 Billion

Chinese actor Sun Honglei and airline operator HNA Group are among a group of new investors which have agreed to pump $1.23 billion (RMB8 billion) into LeSports, the sports subsidiary of Chinese Internet group Le Eco.

LeSports said that it had initially sought only $462 million (RMB3 billion) through a series B capital raising exercise. But strong demand led it to expand the sale. It means that the company, which is financed independently of Le Eco, has raised a total of $1.35 billion in its two year existence and that it is valued at $3.3 billion (RMB21.5 billion).

There are some 30 new investors. HNA will own 5.85% of the company.

LeSports’ initial funding round was backed by companies including Dalian Wanda and the Yunfeng Fund, an investment vehicle of Alibaba founder Jack Ma.

The company which boasts a strategy combining events operations, streaming content, and smart devices with Internet services, has media rights for more than 300 sports events worldwide. These include exclusive new media rights for the Chinese Super League, for the next two years; a three-year strategic partnership with Major League Baseball for broadcasting rights in mainland China, Hong Kong, and Macau; and exclusive live broadcasting rights for the English Premier League in Hong Kong from 2016 to 2019.

“We are on a mission to provide our customers with better sports entertainment by enhancing the LeSports content platform, expanding our user base and acquiring more resources from the industry. In addition, we will be developing premium smart devices and expanding the number of products in the industry – ultimately creating new and better sporting experiences for our users,” said LeSports CEO Zhenjian Lei.

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