Shanghai Shenhua football club have new owners, according to information released by Sina Sports, with the purchase of the club by property developers Shanghai Greenland Group announced on Tuesday.
Details of the proposed arrangement are still sparse, but it would bring an end to the Zhu Jun era at the Hongkou stadium, with the club becoming officially known as Shanghai Greenland Shenhua.
Zhu had owned the club since 2007, when he began a merger with city rivals Shanghai United. However, there is as yet no indication as to whether Zhu will retain his place on the club’s board.
Given that we are currently mid-season in the 2013 Chinese Super League campaign, there will be no immediate changes to the club’s identity regarding the Shenhua name and kit design. However, it is already being speculated that there may be changes for the 2014 season.
Greenland have expanded rapidly since their formation in 1992, becoming one of the 500 richest companies in the world in 2012, and only recently announcing a $498 million redevelopment project in Sydney, Australia as their business continues to rapidly expand overseas.
According to their website, they hope to enter the Fortune 200 list (200 richest companies) in 2015, when their turnover is expected to top RMB 500 billion (£50 billion). At present, they are expect to turnover RMB 300 billion in 2013. As a comparison, in figures released in March 2012, Evergrande group boasted a sizeable turnover of RMB 65 billion.
As is common for Chinese firms of their size, Greenland have invested heavily in infrastructure around their Shanghai base. The company have invested RMB 400 million in the construction of symbolic public greenbelts in Shanghai alone, as well as RMB 250 million in support of the 2010 Shanghai World Expo.
The company claim to have invested a total of RMB 900 million on charity, public welfare, Shanghai EXPO and preferential treatment for servicemen over the past 20 years. They will also invest a massive RMB 80 billion in buying land in “first tier” cities across China in 2013 alone.
In recent times the company has invested in foreign assets and is said to be considering listing some of these, including the Hong Kong SPG group, on the Hong Kong stock exchange in the near future.
Chairman Zhang Yuliang is the company’s public figurehead and will be expected to be prominent in the early stages of the move into football.