China Sets Sights on M&A Gold

Chinese Olympians managed to scoop a total of 26 gold medals at the Rio Olympic Games. Although the country’s medal haul was not enough to match its astonishing tally in Beijing in 2008, China finished a commendable third place behind the US and the UK in the medal table.

While being usurped by teams USA and GB may have been disappointing for China, when it comes to M&A the country has its sights firmly set on gold, particularly on sporting asset deals. Sporting M&A continues to score highly and Chinese investors are completing a steady stream of deals in the sector. While the US still leads in terms of sector deal volume, with a recent acquisition of the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) for an astonishing $4bn, we all know that M&A is a marathon, not a sprint.

China’s influence on the world’s sporting stage is gaining more momentum and analysts suggest the number of Chinese buyers among the many bidders for UFC was influential in driving the record setting price paid for the mixed martial arts franchise. In addition, Chinese President Xi Jinping has openly voiced the country’s ambition to host the FIFA World Cup in the near future, having spent several years building a convincing campaign through China’s investment in international football.

Here are the sporting deals that are leading China to pole position in M&A:

  • Wanda Group – $51m investment in Club Atlético de Madrid in 2015. China’s first major deal with a top European football club.
  • China Media Capital and CITIC – in Q4 of 2015 both investors acquired stakes in Manchester City Football Club for $400m.
  • Suning Holdings Group – in June 2016 the electronics retailer completed the $306.5m acquisition of Inter Milan, following its 2015 purchase of local Chinese Super League team, which it subsequently renamed Jiangsu Suning FC.
  • Shanghai Jinxin – the investment fund announced in May 2016 its agreement to acquire the world’s top soccer rights agency, MP & Silva Ltd, for $1bn. The company distributes sports programming to over 200 broadcasters across the world, including Premier League football and Formula One.
  • Recon Group – July 2016 saw the Chinese conglomerate announce its intention to acquire Aston Villa in a deal worth $101m.
  • Fosun International – another Chinese conglomerate to acquire a British football club, Fosun purchased Wolverhampton Wanderers in July 2016 for $59.7m.
  • Alisports – owned by the Alibaba Group, Alisports signed a partnership deal with The National Football League (NFL) in quarter one 2016, in an attempt to create a new market for American football in China. In the same period, Alisports announced a new corporation with World Rugby.

Sports M&A shows no signs of slowing down and Chinese investors are at front top of the pack when it comes to deal making.

With experience in a number of key sectors and representation throughout the Americas, Europe, Africa and Asia, Benchmark International can connect you with the right opportunity. To find out more, visit


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