Saints owner Gao builds on his Lander Sports credentials in China

Jisheng Gao

November 13 – Lander Sports, the Chinese holding company whose principal Jisheng Gao (pictured) holds 80% ownership of Premier League Southampton, has signed a deal with Zhihui Real Estate to speed up the construction of its sports projects.

While the Saints are a private acquisition by Gao after he failed to release Chinese money through Lander, the club could have a role to play in the marketing and branding and knowledge sharing with the Lander projects

Lander’s sports company’s subsidiaries, Hangzhou Lander Lingang, Hangzhou Lander Jiusha Sports, Lander Western Sports-Panlong Branch, Lander Sports Venue Management and Nanjing Lander Real Estate, also signed commission contracts with Zhihui, worth about 8 million yuan (£920,000).

Lander Sports is looking to create sports towns, urban sports complexes and sports fitness stadiums. It’s first-half report 2017 shows revenue of 996 million yuan (£114.5 mllion) a 23.36% year-on-year decrease, but revenue from sports of 28 million yuan (£3.6 million) – a 1002% year-on-year growth.

The Gao family had repeatedly missed deadlines to finance the deal for Saints via Lander as they had hunted for more partners to come in on the acquisition, estimated to be £210 million.

When it looked as though the deal had finally fallen through as China’s government tightened money flow from the country to acquire football clubs in Europe – seen as frivolous investments – Gao then turned to using their private funds and money held outside China.

Gao is a controversial figure in China have sailed close to the wind of corruption concerning government contracts. However, the rehabilitation of his reputation appears to be progressing well and Saints could be a useful asset in this process as he looks to accelerate Lander’s sports build in China.

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