Yesterday morning most in China were enjoying their day off, resting at home or out on holiday, and it’s unlikely they picked up the paper, especially Soccer News, though those who did were greeted by a large headline stating that Hainan Airlines are trying to purchase Greentown Holdings and all the companies under them, including Hangzhou Greentown.
A few weeks back we talked about how business issues could shape the Chinese Super League in the near future, as holding and real estate companies have struggled this year, at the top of the list was Greentown Holdings. With a large number of properties ready to go on line in the near future and occupancy/sales at record lows, some companies are having a harder go at it these days.
At the same time, Hainan Airlines has long been interested in building up its sports portfolio. They’ve been involved in women’s golf as well as basketball over the years and were behind the much rumored move of the Chengdu Blades to Haikou before the start of the Chinese Super League season. While that move never materialized, this one seems far more likely. Hainan Airlines has built an excellent facility not far from Haikou’s airport that is already used by different Chinese Super League teams for off-season training. The Hainan provincial government has also made commitments to build a 60,000 seat stadium on the island.
Hainan Airlines is the fourth largest airline in China and one of the largest companies in Hainan province. It goes beyond just being an airlines and is involved in the operation of airports, hotels, and some real estate holdings. Their interest in Greentown goes far beyond the football field, but it’s a major factor in their desire to purchase Greentown Holdings.
Currently, they’ve ponied up an offer of RMB30 billion ($4.6 billion) to purchase Greentown outright. Greentown chairman, Song Weiping was hoping for an offer closer to RMB40 billion ($156 million), so there is a significant gap between the two sides right now. At the same time, Song didn’t want to sell off all of Greentown’s subsidiaries (though the football club was one he is willing to sell off), but he’s said that he is a realist and is willing to sell if he gets the right bid.
This is an important developing story and definitely has an eye on it, we’ll be sure to keep you up to date on any developments.