On the heels of a legitimately terrible, no good, very bad loss, and as first reported by Sky Sports, China Everbright, a state owned investment firm, is partnering with PCP Capital Partners to table a shareholding deal with Fenway Sports Group. Rumors of a Chinese takeover have been a consistent drumbeat over the years, and from a fact-based perspective, this late-breaking news appears more grounded in reality than previous, similar reports.
One fact posited within the widespread reports might raise an eyebrow, namely: Everbright and PCP value Liverpool at only £800M. Further causing eyebrow raising is the fact Liverpool’s owners have moved quickly to explicitly deny the reports.
“I’d say that from time to time somebody says they have made an offer to buy us but they are really saying that just for publicity,” Tom Werner said in response to the rumor. “People throw offers to us which we don’t think are real. We haven’t had a discussion or a negotiation with anyone because this club is not for sale,” Werner continued.
“Not for sale” does not equal “closed for investment,” and as the Sky Sports report mentions, a fair amount of Chinese money has flooded the Premier League recently: Aston Villa, West Bromwich Albion, and Wolverhampton Wanderers all have been subject to Chinese takeovers recently. The report further points out that China Media Capital bought a minority stake in Manchester City last year.
Lending credence to skeptics, many reports cite the influence of Xi Jinping, titling him the Chinese Premier. The current premier is Li Keqiang. Further, and take this for what you will: I once represented the Chinese Sovereign Wealth Fund - no really, I did but no longer - I find all of this a little tenuous, and James Pearce was quick to quash rumors, as well.
Given the arms race currently taking place in the Premier League in the aftermath of the gargantuan television deals and transfers said deals fuel, it’s hard not to pause when faced with these kind of reports: Fowler knows folks want their slice. However, when reaching our to a source with third-party knowledge of the situation, The Liverpool Offside was assured there likely was nothing to this latest round of investment interest - though without concrete confirmation from China Everbright or PCP Capital Partners, it would be impossible to say for certain.
The influx of the television money, which is staggeringly large, renders questionable the idea that FSG should sell at the moment, let alone for £800M; to be fair, selling is not the same as accepting a large cash influx for a minority stake, and the latter would make sense. One need only look at the price of MLB clubs to see what FSG are thinking. Lest my point is not clear: MLB has a basically a two-nation market (and the benefit of a 162 game season); EPL play 38 games, but that shit is broadcast worldwide, y’all. NBC paid a quarter billion dollars, alone, to show it stateside.
I will withhold comment on this deal until it goes forward, but I would note: This is China Everbright. Regardless, Reds: relax. Their interest may or may be not be real, but if it is, any investment would be a minority investment only. And there’s no denying more money is not a bad thing when competing with the Man City’s of the world.