Southampton linked to Chinese takeover, Hull in non-exclusive talks

English Premier League football club Southampton is reportedly in exclusive takeover talks with Chinese company Lander Sports Development, while Hong Kong-listed GreaterChina Professional Services today (Wednesday) said it has entered into a non-exclusive memorandum of understanding (MoU) to acquire Hull City.

The Bloomberg news agency, citing people familiar with the situation, said Southampton’s Swiss owner, Katharina Liebherr, has been involved in the talks with Lander for several weeks, adding that a takeover deal could be worth as much as £200m (€221.6m/$243.8m).

Lander had previously concentrated on the sale and management of property before moving into the sports market last year. A spokesman for Southampton told Bloomberg he was unaware of the talks, while Lander declined to comment.

Meanwhile, GreaterChina spelled out its plans for Hull in a press conference in Hong Kong today. The asset advisory and advertising services firm is leading a consortium interested in acquiring the club, which won promotion back to the Premier League this season and has been the subject of long-running takeover speculation.

GreaterChina said it has agreed a deal worth £130m with Allamhouse Limited, the entity controlled by Hull owner Assem Allam. Bloomberg said the company is looking for investors to help finance the transaction and hopes to close the deal in the first half of 2017.

David Yip, executive director of GreaterChina Professional Services, said at the press conference: “We believe that Hull City is a solid EPL club with great potential and huge room for development. It is for such colossal potential that we intend to acquire Hull City.”

GreaterChina noted that ownership of Hull will open up “numerous opportunities” for the group to expand and diversify its business and revenue streams. Ip Kwok Kwong, executive director and managing director of GreaterChina Professional Services, added: “By leveraging our business resources and network, the expertise of marketing and media advertising, the group has gained in Mainland China, and the consortium member’s experiences in brand authorised operation, promotion management and sports operation and management, it is believed that more business cooperation can be boosted for Hull City.

“Following completion of the proposed acquisition, the group could distribute and market Hull City products and apparel and the group would in conjunction with this, consider to develop chainstore franchising, merchandising, media operations, all in line and complimentary with the current business of the Group, so as to generate a synergic effect to maximise brand value and the club’s interests.”

The developments surrounding Southampton and Hull come after the takeover of West Bromwich Albion by Chinese group Yuni Guokai (Shanghai) Sports was formally approved in September. Yuni Guokai, which is owned by entrepreneur Guochuan Lai, completed its acquisition of West Bromwich Albion Holdings Limited, which had owned approximately 88 per cent of the club’s parent entity.

The agreement made West Brom the first Premier League club to be controlled by an owner from mainland China.