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LeSports stated that it will not be screening the English FA Cup final between Chelsea and Arsenal on its channel on Sunday due to a ‘programme adjustment’. Photo: K.Y. Cheng

LeEco’s sports streaming arm LeSports valued at 24bn yuan after raising capital


LeSports, the Hong Kong-based sports streaming arm of cash-starved internet company LeEco, on Friday announced that it had raised a Series B+ round of funding that values the company at 24 billion yuan (US$3.49 billion).

The company did not disclose the investors leading the round nor the amount of capital raised, but stated in a press release that both new and existing shareholders had taken part, together with a fund from the Sino-Italy (Ningbo) Ecological Park.

LeSports also stated that a strategy development committee aimed at optimising the company’s shareholder structure and assisting the company with its business development had been set up.

The nine members of the committee are reportedly representatives of companies and venture capital firms such as Hainan Airlines Capital, Alibaba founder Jack Ma’s Yunfeng Capital, Prometheus Capital, Zhongze Culture, China Venture, NewStyle Capital and Fortune Link. A LeSports management executive and a representative of private investors in LeSports are also part of the committee.

Alibaba owns the South China Morning Post.

The announcement came just one day after LeSports stated that it will not be screening the English FA Cup final between Chelsea and Arsenal on its channel this Sunday due to a “programme adjustment”.

News of LeSports’ parent company LeEco facing a cash crunch has led to speculation that the company had issues paying satellite link-up fees.

TVB later announced it had secured rights to the final and will be showing it free-to-air live on its Jade channel.

“Affected users” would be given a three-month subscription to their ‘super sports’ package, LeSports said in a Facebook post.

LeEco has been facing a series of financial troubles since November, despite receiving a US$2 billion cash investment from Chinese property developer Sunac in January this year.

The company has slashed its overseas workforce in India and US by over 70 per cent and called off its US$2 billion acquisition deal of US TV maker Vizio, citing “regulatory headwinds”.

Faraday Future, a US-based electric car start-up backed by LeEco founder Jia Yueting, has also run into capital issues and a series of top executives left the company late last year in quick succession. Jia has invested over US$300 million in Faraday.

On Thursday, it was reported that Faraday Future is planning a US$1 billion fundraising round to protect itself from LeEco’s financial troubles, and is looking towards sovereign wealth funds as potential investors, according to Bloomberg, citing anonymous sources.