Revealed: How new Southampton FC owners got funds to buy the club

Southampton Jisheng Gao

New owners of Southampton FC Gao Jisheng are said to have received loans from a Chinese government-backed bank in Hong Kong for funding of U257 million takeover of the English club.

The Chinese businessman Jisheng Gao and his family bought 80% stake in the club. This was contained in an official statement by the club’s owner Katharina Liebherr who made this announcement in a letter to the fans.

Earlier in the year, Gao’s company Lander Sports Development said it had agreed a deal with the Saints, but the partnership is now a personal investment.

The Chinese investor group led by Lander Sports Development Co. Chairman Gao Jisheng settled the bulk of the acquisition cost with a loan from Hong Kong’s Nanyang Commercial Bank Ltd, report on Bloomberg says.

The borrowing is backed by some of Gao’s assets outside of China, including those in the former Portuguese colony of Macau, the people said. Nanyang Commercial Bank was bought last year by China Cinda Asset Management Co., a financial group whose biggest shareholder is the Chinese central government.

By obtaining offshore financing in Hong Kong, Gao skirted a Chinese regulatory clampdown on companies buying trophy assets overseas like sports teams, film studios and luxury hotels. The rising government scrutiny has stymied attempts by prominent dealmakers including Dalian Wanda Group Co., which saw its acquisition of a U.S. television producer collapse after it faced difficulties transferring money out of China.

Following the acquisition, the English club, Southampton joins over 20 clubs across Europe are owned by Chinese. Bloomberg report has full details of how a china backed-bank assisted the Gao family in the deal.

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