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Are Saints owned by the Chinese government?


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Southampton Football Club quizzed on China stake sale

Premier League seeks clarity as state entity gains control of owner’s investment vehicle

 

England’s Premier League is looking into whether the Chinese state has gained a significant stake in Southampton football club, after owner Gao Jisheng ceded control of a sports investment vehicle.

 

Mr Gao, a real estate magnate and founder of Shenzhen-listed Lander Sports, bought an 80 per cent stake in Southampton in 2017 in a transaction that valued the club at about £200m.

 

Lander Sports said in a regulatory filing last month that it would sell a 29.9 per cent stake in itself to the state-owned Chengdu Assets Supervision and Administration Commission for Rmb1.3bn ($194m).

 

The deal, which remains subject to regulatory approvals, hands control of Lander Sports to the asset manager, with Mr Gao’s family retaining a 23.95 per cent stake, according to the filing.

 

At the Premier League, the body that runs the top tier of English football, questions have arisen over whether the deal has implications for Mr Gao’s ownership of Southampton, where he and his daughter Nelly serve as directors.

 

Southampton’s initial announcement of the takeover in January 2017 said terms had been agreed with Lander Sports. But when the deal was completed that August, it was Mr Gao and his family who acquired the 80 per cent stake in their personal capacity, according to people at the time with knowledge of the deal.

 

Southampton told the Financial Times this week that the club is owned by a UK entity, also called Lander Sports and funded by the Gao family but otherwise unconnected to the China-based company. It said this meant there had been no change in ownership or control.

 

The Premier League has in recent weeks repeatedly requested more detailed information from Southampton about the sale of the stake in China-based Lander Sports and whether it affects Mr Gao’s ownership of the club, according to a person familiar with the communications.

 

The person said the league had yet to receive clear responses to these inquiries.

 

A Southampton spokesperson said they were unaware of any communication between the club and the Premier League.

 

The Premier League has made inquiries because its rules require clubs to inform it in advance of any change in ownership, according to a person aware of its deliberations.

 

League officials approve takeovers only after a due diligence process involving extensive scouring of documentation. This is designed to find out the identity of a buyer, their source of their funds and whether they pose a reputational risk to the league.

 

Lander Sports in China and Mr Gao did not respond to repeated requests for comment. The Premier League declined to comment.

 

Like peers in large cities across China, the state-owned Chengdu Assets Supervision and Administration Commission — the group that now controls the China-listed Lander Sports — is a sprawling manager of government companies, ranging from media and art to real estate, finance and coal mining.

 

The Southampton takeover came at the end of a wave of Chinese acquisitions of European football clubs, which has since subsided amid a Beijing crackdown on overseas purchases.

 

After the Southampton deal, the Premier League tightened rules over club ownership amid growing concerns about the background of foreign individuals and groups attempting to buy into one of the world’s richest sports leagues.

 

Fourteen of the 20 clubs in the Premier League are owned or controlled by overseas investors. One of those, Manchester City, is connected to a state — owner Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed al-Nahyan is a member of the Abu Dhabi royal family.

 

 

https://www.ft.com/content/062b6338-5a1b-11e9-9dde-7aedca0a081a

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"Are Saints owned by the Chinese government?"

 

Given they've purchased a junk of Lander Sports (China) rather than Lander Sports (UK), then the simple answer is 'No', isn't it?

 

Would be awfully nice of Mr Gao if he could transfer that $194m the Chinese government paid for a stake in Lander Sports (China) into Southampton Football Club Ltd though... :)

Edited by trousers
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If Huawei are our shirt sponsors next year, we’ll know. Either way, I suspect the boys won’t be wearing Dalai Lama training tops.

If they can install a mobile signal cell that works 100% in the stadium on a matchday, I would have no issue with their name on our shirt...........might have to guard the internet settings mind.

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Correct. A complete non-story.

 

I suspect it’s a bit more complicated than that - otherwise the PL would not be investigating the issue and making repeated, detailed enquiries and still failing to receive satisfactory answers (if you believe the story). Nor presumably would the FT be running a story. Should have just handed the matter over to the forum experts who would have resolved it in minutes. Are you and trousers on call in case? :lol:

Edited by shurlock
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i started out very quickly interested in this story. The question posed raised serious concerns, the article goes on to state that we in fact arent owned by the Chinese government, and then carries on suggesting there could be an issue. Nice work

 

The article doesn't state that. It says that the clubs states that (which is very different). As Verbal says, ownership, control and influence are not the same thing in China and we're seeing a renewed trend of the Chinese state coopting the private sector. Frasier Howie has written extensively on this:

 

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/videos/2018-10-22/china-s-private-sector-is-not-independent-from-the-state-says-author-howie-video

 

Of course there might be absolutely nothing in this but the PL, at least, believes it merits attention.

Edited by shurlock
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What actually happens if the PL find something they really don’t like?

If you're top 6 they'll adapt the rules to fit, if you are outside that club they'll beat you with a stick. :p

 

The fact that Man City are pretty much an overseas State owned company and nowt is said, yet we might be owned by the Chinese state and we become persons of interest, pretty much sums up my tongue in cheek response.

If we were Chinese State owned and they threw in all the chicanery that City have done to make sure the expenditure fits the rules, pumping a nice heap of the vast State wealth into Saints would probably upset the apple cart at the top of the league.

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Should have just handed the matter over to the forum experts who would have resolved it in minutes. Are you and trousers on call in case? [emoji38]

 

You'll notice that trousers was asking a question rather than stating fact. I think you're mistaking trousers for someone that knows stuff... ;)

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If you track ownership of Southampton Football Club you end up with a Lander Sports International Investment Co, Ltd which is registered in Hong Kong and whose results form part of a Group Company registered in the BVI. Neither of these jurisdictions provide public information on ownership so no way of validating who owns the Company. This is probably the questions that the Premier League are asking but not getting response back on

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If you track ownership of Southampton Football Club you end up with a Lander Sports International Investment Co, Ltd which is registered in Hong Kong and whose results form part of a Group Company registered in the BVI. Neither of these jurisdictions provide public information on ownership so no way of validating who owns the Company. This is probably the questions that the Premier League are asking but not getting response back on

 

I'm sure it's all fine. Our owner is squeaky clean.

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Well whoever owns us, I hope he is minted and can help us progress as a club.

 

I fear you're going to be proved horribly wrong. Capitalism to the Chinese Communist party means patronage. The centralised system picks up failing bits of the economy, and other bits it wants an interest in, because it has the power to do this, and because it wishes to co-opt and control Chinese entrepreneurs. It's much more usual for assets snapped up in this way to be squeezed, or for indebtedness to the state to be increased with demanding loan conditions. (On a much grander scale, take a look at how the Sri Lankans have had to hand over their state-owned ports to China as a result of 'investments' under the notorious Belt & Road Initiative).

 

IF it's true that the CCP has its hands on another chunk of the Gao empire (and it would be surprising if it hasn't), it's almost certainly not good news for Saints.

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Think you fell into the Saints Web pot hole Billy.......without the benefit of quotes think Charlie was referring to the end of Trousers post: just missed of the 2.0

 

Anyway with my pedantic head on Yen is Japanese - Yuan is Chinese

 

Oops, of course it is.

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I'm sure it's all fine. Our owner is squeaky clean.

 

The whole episode has been dodgy, the premier league tried to block the take over initially and clearly are not comfortable with our ownership structure.

 

Shify Gao cracks me up, remember the story of his daughter Nelly building a great friendship with Kat. :lol:

 

Just hope that the Chinese president who loves Premier league football insists on investment in the club to bring pride to China.

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The whole episode has been dodgy, the premier league tried to block the take over initially and clearly are not comfortable with our ownership structure.

 

Shify Gao cracks me up, remember the story of his daughter Nelly building a great friendship with Kat. :lol:

 

Just hope that the Chinese president who loves Premier league football insists on investment in the club to bring pride to China.

 

Yeah, didn't they vote to change the rules after Gao took control?

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This has been refuted by the club. 'There is no truth to any of these rumours and it is just fake news. We at Southampton Football Club wish to request that in future papers carry out a thorough fact check, ' Said Saints official spokesman, Zhang Wei Yin of the Peoples Liberation Army.

.......on the orders of his Commander in Chief Xi Jinping

:D

 

If we don't get Huawei, the hopefully we get Xiaomi ............... pretty much means your bit on the side - Mistress (about right for a mobile phone).

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