Wanda 'to return to Chinese Super League club ownership'
Wanda Group, the Chinese multinational conglomerate whose sports investments include the Infront sports marketing agency, is poised to return to club ownership in the Chinese Super League, the country’s top-tier soccer division, according to multiple reports in China.
Wanda looks set to purchase a controlling stake in newly-promoted Dalian Yifang, although neither party has yet confirmed an agreement.
Having sold a 17-per-cent stake in Spanish soccer’s Atlético Madrid, Wanda is refocusing its investments on the domestic market in light of increased scrutiny from regulators and a clampdown on foreign spending.
Based in the city of Dalian in Liaoning Province, where Wanda chairman Wang Jianlin (pictured) first started his business, Dalian Yifang was formed in 2009 (as Dalian Aerbin) and reached the CSL three years later, before relegation in 2014.
It was promoted back to the top tier for this year after winning the second division.
The club is presently owned by Yifang Group, the property firm that has been buying into cinema and property projects developed by Wanda.
Wanda did own the Dalian Shide in the 1990s, a period in which the club won five championships, but Wang sold the club in 2000 after becoming disheartened by various match-fixing scandals in China.
Commenting on the takeover reports, Dalian Yifang pledged that it would “release important information” today.
Wanda this month sold its stake in Atlético Madrid to Quantum Pacific Group, the shipping and energy conglomerate, in a deal worth about €50 million ($61.5 million).
Wanda bought a 20-per-cent stake in Atlético in 2015 for €45 million, but has recently been seeking to reduce its debt.