SHANGHAI (AFP) - China's most successful football club, Guangzhou Evergrande Taobao, has raised US$132 million (S$190 million) from new investors in a deal that valued it at US$2.4 billion - within striking distance of Manchester United.
Asian champions Evergrande raised 869 million yuan (S$190 million) from issuing the new shares on China's little-known, over-the-counter market, the National Equities Exchange and Quotations (NEEQ) system, where it listed in November.
But the sale fell short of Evergrande's previously stated target that the money-losing club would raise up to 2.65 billion yuan.
Before the fundraising, it was 60 per cent owned by property developer Evergrande and the rest was held by e-commerce giant Alibaba.
The sale diluted their stakes to 56.71 per cent and 37.81 per cent respectively, a statement released on Thursday said, implying 5.48 per cent of the company was now owned by the 23 new investors.
Investors paid 40 yuan per share for their stakes, a lofty price that some had questioned given that the club has been losing money.
The deal values Evergrande at a jaw-dropping US$2.4 billion - putting it in a similar league to New York Stock Exchange-listed Premier League club Manchester United, which is currently worth US$2.53 billion.
Evergrande lost US$75 million in 2014, according to earlier results.
Among the new shareholders, the largest is a fund managed by Shenzhen's Foresea Kaynes Investment with a 1.16 per cent stake, the statement showed.
In China, football clubs often serve their owners by providing political capital, a show of hometown loyalty or a trophy in a business empire.