City Football Group (CFG) signals China growth as CMC Holdings led-consortium acquires 13% CFG minority shareholding. The strategic minority shareholding creates an unprecedented platform to deliver CFG growth opportunities in China and internationally. The deal values CFG at US$3bn.
CFG, the owner of football related clubs and businesses including Manchester City FC, New York City FC, Melbourne City FC, and a minority shareholder in Yokohama F. Marinos, has announced a partnership with a consortium of high-profile Chinese institutional investors led by China’s leading media, entertainment, sports and Internet dedicated investment and operating company, CMC (China Media Capital) Holdings.
The deal will create an unprecedented platform for the growth of CFG clubs and companies in China and internationally, borne out of CFG’s ability to provide a wealth of industry expertise and resources to the rapidly developing Chinese football industry.
The agreement will see the consortium of CMC Holdings and CITIC Capital invest US$400m to take a shareholding in City Football Group of just over 13%. The agreement is subject to regulatory approval in some territories.
The announcement follows more than six months of discussions among the parties to find the optimum model and associated strategies for the partnership. The capital from the share acquisition will be used by City Football Group to fund its China growth, further CFG’s international business expansion opportunities and further develop CFG’s infrastructure assets.
The CFG/CMC partnership is predicated on the opportunity to create new value for CFG in China and beyond by working with CMC, CITIC Capital and the Chinese football industry. To that end, 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.
The deal will see new shares issued in City Football Group in addition to the ones held by the Abu Dhabi United Group (ADUG), the investment and development company privately owned by His Highness Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan, and prior to this transaction the sole shareholder of City Football Group.
CMC will represent the consortium at Board level with Mr. Ruigang Li, the Chairman of CMC becoming a member of the City Football Group Holding Company Board – which as a result of the agreement, will increase from six to seven members.
Speaking about the partnership, Khaldoon Al Mubarak, Chairman of City Football Group said:
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. 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.
On behalf of the investing consortium, CMC Chairman Ruigang Li said:
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.