China firms get majority stake at MP & Silva

International sports media rights agency MP & Silva yesterday announced an agreement to sell a majority stake to two Chinese companies, the latest in a series of global-sports related investments from China.

Financial services company Everbright Securities and internet entertainment firm Beijing Baofeng Technology will acquire a 65 per cent stake in the London- and Singapore- headquartered MP & Silva.

No financial details were given in the press release. Bloomberg News reported the deal values the Italian-owned group at US$1.4 billion (S$1.9 billion).

The partnership, MP & Silva said, will help "develop our business and strengthen further our global footprint" and "enhance the delivery of some of the most popular sports events in the world and benefit from their presence in China to grow our presence in this key sports market".

Founded in 2004, MP & Silva has an annual turnover of US$600 million and distributes sports programming to more than 200 broadcasters in 215 countries, with a portfolio that includes next month's Euro 2016 and Formula One.

Last year, it signed a S$25 million, six-year deal with the Football Association of Singapore.

China has recently made significant investments into sports, particularly football. Tycoon Wang Jianlin and his conglomerate Wanda group have bought Swiss marketing group Infront, a 20 per cent stake in Spanish football club Atletico Madrid, and the organiser of the Ironman extreme endurance contests.

In March, Wanda became a top-level sponsor for football's governing body Fifa while Chinese magnate Dr Tony Xia last week agreed to buy English club Aston Villa.

Nicholas Tan

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 25, 2016, with the headline 'China firms get majority stake at MP & Silva'. Print Edition | Subscribe