Top of the financial league

Guangzhou Evergrande

Is China’s top football team worth as much as Manchester United? That is what Chinese media has been speculating, after Guangzhou Evergrande Taobao elected to go public on the Beijing-based Third Board. Xinhua calculates that – at the top end of its proposed price range – the southern Chinese club’s market capitalisation will be Rmb17.6 billion ($2.75 billion) – i.e. not far from Manchester United’s $3 billion.

Xinhua also points out that Guangzhou Evergrande’s value has skyrocketed since real estate tycoon Xu Jiayin bought it outright in 2010 for Rmb100 million. Back then the team was mired in scandal, but Xu brought in top international players and management, making it a force in the local league, and helping it win five championships in a row. (Adding to its financial firepower: last year Jack Ma bought 50% of the team from Xu for Rmb1.2 billion.)

Tencent Sports reckons the club will get another big boost to its bottom line from ticket sales at Saturday’s second leg of the final of the AFC Champions League, where it plays Al-Ahli of Dubai. In a measure of how sought-after tickets have become, the most expensive seats are being sold by the club for Rmb39,000. Based on the stadium’s 60,000 capacity and what is deems as the average ticket price, Tencent estimates that Evergrande will earn Rmb200 million from the game. This, it says, is the equivalent of an entire season’s revenue for smaller clubs like Guizhou Moutai.

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