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English Premier League 2015-16

Hong Kong-listed Chinese firm ‘set to buy Aston Villa’– report

Reports in England claim company focused on pharmaceuticals wants to branch out into football

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 12 May, 2016, 10:04am
UPDATED : Thursday, 12 May, 2016, 10:04am

A Hong Kong-listed investment company is set to buy English football club Aston Villa, according to a report in the Mirror.

Rui Kang Pharmaceutical Group Investments Limited, which describes itself as “a Sino-foreign joint equity venture in the People’s Republic of China”, is closing in on a £75 million (HK$840 million) deal for the storied club, who were relegated from the English Premier League this season.

Calls to Rui Kang’s Hong Kong office went unanswered today.

Villa’s current owner, American Randy Lerner, has been keen to sell for a considerable time.

According to its website, Rui Kang’s principal business is making drugs and health products in mainland China, providing health services in Hong Kong and trading securities in HK.

If the purchase is confirmed, Rui Kang would be the latest Chinese firm to get involved in sport and football.

At one end of the scale, real estate giant Wanda bought a stake in Atletico Madrid and China Media Capital part of Manchester City; at the other, toy-car manufacturer Rastar Group bought Spanish club Espanyol and HK-listed lighting company Ledus bought French club Sochaux.

The moves come after Chinese president Xi Jinping demanded the country’s football improve, and after the government proclaimed that sport would become a key part of the economy in coming years.