Thursday, June 28, 2007

HK billionaire takes control of Premiership club

In the latest high profile takeover of a British football club, Hong Kong billionaire Carson Yeung has bought a controlling stake in recently promoted Birmingham City FC.

Whilst the English Premier League has many followers in Hong Kong, this represents the first serious involvement of Hong Kong business (and Hong Kong money) in the game. Yeung had apparently tried to buy Reading before completing the Birmingham deal.

Little is known at this stage about Yeung's business background, although he is reported to have made his fortune initially through investments in the gas and electronics industries.

He has used Grandtop International Holdings Ltd, a small-scale clothing company with an annual turnover of less than £5m, to buy his shares in Birmingham.

According to reports in Hong Kong, Yeung acquired his 16.67 per cent stake in Grandtop only last Friday in a deal worth £4m. The shares surged by 25 per cent on the back of the purchase, making him an instant £2m profit.

Why he has purchased his stake in Birmingham through the clothing company, which is listed on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange, is at this stage unclear.

Yeung, who was previously chairman of Hong Kong Rangers, failed in a previous bid to buy Reading and had shown an interest in acquiring Sheffield Wednesday.

Exactly what role Yeung will play at the club also remains uncertain. A lot will depend on whether he goes through with a full takeover bid.

News report here.

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