BEIJING, June 24 (Xinhua) — Bold plans unveiled by the Chinese government to develop the sports industry have fueled hunger and ambitions among Chinese investors.
Besides manufacturing sport wear and gear, Chinese investors have started to buy stakes in European soccer clubs and sports-related international companies.
Billionaire Wang Jianlin said one of his goals is to turn his Wanda Group into a leader in the world’s sports industry.
“We are going to merge at least three sports-related enterprises by the end of the year, a move expected to give Wanda a leading position in the world’s sports industry,” Wang told Xinhua on Tuesday.
The Chinese real estate and entertainment giant bought Swiss sports marketing company Infront Sports & Media three weeks after it purchased stakes of 2014 Spanish La Liga champions Atletico Madrid in January. The two deals cost Wang about 1.25 billion U.S. dollars.
Wang admitted that his group, well known for real estate projects, cinemas and plazas, is a “green hand” in the sports industry but ample budget ensured his group’s rapid rise in the sector.
“What we are doing is merging, which paved our way to the industry,” he said.
Wang took Infront as an example.
“Infront is a company with many resources, controlling sports events’ broadcast rights and marketing rights,” he said. “With Infront, we now stand at the upstream of the industry.”
China has unveiled plans to raise sports sector into a 5-trillion-yuan (817 billion U.S. dollars) industry by 2025.
Under a sweeping reform plan, private investment will be encouraged, new sports facilities will be built and the government will support the sector by increasingly buying its services.
Encouraged by the plans and later a reform agenda to revive Chinese soccer, many enterprises including Wanda have started to invest heavily in sports, especially soccer. Enditem