China’s CMC Holdings invests US$400m in City Football Group

Multi-faceted media company acquires 13 per cent of soccer ownership group.

China’s CMC Holdings invests US$400m in City Football Group

China Media Capital (CMC) Holdings has acquired a minority stake in City Football Group (CFG), the owners of Manchester City FC, New York City FC, Melbourne City FC, and a minority shareholder in Yokohama F. Marinos.

CMC, described as ‘China's leading media, entertainment, sports and Internet dedicated investment and operating company’, has teamed up with CITIC Capital, an investment management and advisory firm, to invest US$400 million for a 13 per cent shareholding in CFG, valuing the group at US$3 billion.

The agreement, which remains subject to regulatory approval ‘in some territories’, comes after more than six months of discussions among the parties involved. The capital from the share acquisition will be used by CFG to fund its growth in China, as well as further international business acquisition, which could lead to the addition of more clubs to its portfolio.

According to a statement released on Tuesday, ‘CMC and CITIC Capital representatives and CFG executives have already been working together, along with third parties, to identify and implement China-based initiatives for the CFG portfolio of clubs and companies.’

CMC already has a strong presence in Chinese soccer as the owner of exclusive media rights to the Chinese Super League (CSL) and the Chinese Football Association (CFA).

The deal will see new shares created in CFG, adding to those held by the Abu Dhabi United Group (ADUG), Sheikh Mansour’s investment vehicle that prior to Tuesday’s announcement was the sole shareholder of CFG.

Following the agreement, CMC chairman Ruigang Li will sit on the City Football Group Holding Company Board, which will now include seven members.

"Football is the most loved, played and watched sport in the world and in China, the exponential growth pathway for the game is both unique and hugely exciting,” said Khaldoon Al Mubarak, the chairman of CFG.

“We have therefore worked hard to find the right partners and to create the right deal structure to leverage the incredible potential that exists in China, both for CFG and for football at large.

"Our partners have an incredible track record of creating value and could not be better placed to help us further evolve City Football Group.

“Our belief is that we now have an unrivalled platform to grow CFG, our clubs and companies both in China and internationally and we will be working hard with our new partners to realise the potential that this deal creates."

Ruigang Li added: "Football is now at a fascinating and critical stage of development in China. We see unprecedented growth opportunities in both its development as an industry, being China's most watched sport, and its inspirational role bringing people of all ages together with a shared passion.

“CMC has long been dedicated to creating opportunities that facilitate positive developments in Chinese football from different aspects within the ecosystem. With its unique business model and distinct successes, City Football Group, whom we have come to know well, represents a differentiated systematic approach to building a global platform for football know-how, player development, academy programmes and commercial partnerships that will benefit China's football industry on multiple levels.

“We and our consortium partner CITIC Capital also see this investment as a prime opportunity for furthering the contribution of China to the global football family."