Date
26 September 2017
Jack Ma is now half-owner of Guangzhou Evergrande soccer club (inset) but he is coming in as a complete outsider which he thinks is a good thing. Photo: Bloomberg, Guangzhou Evergrande's website
Jack Ma is now half-owner of Guangzhou Evergrande soccer club (inset) but he is coming in as a complete outsider which he thinks is a good thing. Photo: Bloomberg, Guangzhou Evergrande's website

Jack Ma snaps up soccer club stake without looking

Alibaba founder Jack Ma apparently is not one to dither over a good deal, never mind that he had no idea exactly what he was getting into.

The Chinese e-commerce tycoon with a flair for drama snapped up half of Guanzhou Evergrande soccer team for 1.2 billion yuan (US$192 million) in a deal that took just a matter of days.

Reason: It’s cheap.

In fact, Ma said he has no idea how much a soccer club is worth, but he has a perfectly sensible explanation for doing the deal, according to the Wall Street Journal.

“I think not understanding soccer doesn’t matter. I also didn’t understand retail, e-commerce or the internet but that didn’t stop me from doing it anyway,” he said.

Ma comes into soccer as a complete outsider which he said is a good thing. It gives him a different perspective and might embolden him to break the rules which could improve the club.

Evergrande is owned by property developer Evergrande Group, controlled by Xu Jiayin, who is worth about US$7.7 billion, according to Hurun Report, which tracks rich Chinese.

Ma’s football foray is the latest in a string of deals for Alibaba which is planning to list in the United States later this year.

These include acquisitions in the media and entertainment sectors, many of which will bolster its core online offerings.

If Ma has no idea what he just picked up for a tidy sum, here are some fast facts:

1) Guangzhou Evergrande is one of China’s most successful soccer clubs.

2) Under Italian national team coach Marcello Lippi, the club became the first Chinese team to win the Asian Champions League last year.

3) It has qualified for the quarterfinals of this year’s tournament.

Of course, he owns just half of the ball club, but there’s no such thing as a half-champion.

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