City Football Group, parent company to New York City FC, Manchester City, and Melbourne City (as well as minority owners of Yokohama F. Marinos), announced a partnership today with a Chinese investment consortium for a thirteen-percent share of the holding company.
CFG's total valuation is estimated around $3 billion. As opposed to a transfer of existing shares, the company will issue new shares as a part of the transaction.
This is the first time Abu Dhabi United Group, the Middle Eastern-based investment and development trust which operates CFG, has agreed to sell an ownership stake of any size. The purchasing consortium consists of China Media Capital Holdings and CITIC Capital.
City Football Group Chairman Khaldoon al-Mubarak issued this statement today:
“Football is the most loved, played and watched sport in the world and in China, the exponential growth pathway for the game is both unique and hugely exciting.
"We have therefore worked hard to find the right partners and to create the right deal structure to leverage the incredible potential that exists in China, both for CFG and for football at large.
“Our partners have an incredible track record of creating value and could not be better placed to help us further evolve City Football Group. Our belief is that we now have an unrivalled platform to grow CFG, our clubs and companies both in China and internationally and we will be working hard with our new partners to realise the potential that this deal creates.”
As part of the agreement, the CFG Board will expand from six to seven members, with China Media Capital boss Ruigang Li the newest among them.
The transaction reflects a clear desire to expand the City brand to the growing Chinese market, generally considered a sleeping giant as far as consumer bases are concerned. The deal was reportedly six months in the making, and is currently pending approval by a number of overseas regulatory agencies.