The last time a Hong Kong firm took control of a European football club, things soured for both sides. Birmingham was relegated from the English Premier League while its Chinese owner Carson Yeung is now serving jail time for money laundering (see WiC229).
That hasn’t dampened the aspirations of LEDUS, a LED lightmaker listed in Hong Kong and a unit of Zhejiang-based lighting giant Techpro. LEDUS last week finalised an $8 million deal to take over FC Sochaux from carmaker Peugeot, making the French second-division club the first in Europe to fall under Chinese control.
Sochaux was set up by Peugeot in 1928 as the first professional football team in France. The club has spent a record 66 seasons in the French top-flight. Under former manager Alain Perrin, who is now coaching China’s national football squad, Sochaux won the Coupe de France (France’s top cup tournament) in 2007. However, the club was relegated to the second division last year, with Peugeot redirecting its sponsorship cash to car racing and tennis.
LEDUS is keen to emphasise that, like Peugeot, it wants to own Sochaux for decades . “We are here for the long term, We are not traders. We want to keep its culture and continue its history,” LEDUS boss Li Wing Sang said in a press conference.
The goal, according to Li, is “to make Sochaux an international brand to reach out to numerous markets”.
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