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SBD Global/August 30, 2012/Finance

Former Basketball Player Yao Ming Makes Move Into Private Equity Arena

Former NBA player Yao Ming is moving into an "unfamiliar arena," the private equity arena, following reports he has bought and rebranded Chinese firm Chongqing Yufu Assets Management Group, according to Sonja Cheung of the WALL STREET JOURNAL. He is not the first celebrity to move into the private equity world. Others before him include U2 singer Bono and former NFL quarterback Steve Young. Although athletes and celebrities "may not always have financial background," they bring star power, most notably when it comes to fundraising. Consulting firm McKinsey & Co Managing Dir Bruno Roy said, "One thing famous sports and music figures bring to a private equity firm is brand awareness, which certainly cannot hurt fundraising. Everyone will take a meeting with Bono, Steve Young and Yao Ming." Although the jury is "still out on Mr. Yao’s move into the private equity world," Shangai-based Gobi Partners Founder Tom Tsao said, "His experience in dealing with locker room dynamics while at the Houston Rockets will serve him well when dealing with fractious corporate boards" (WSJ, 8/28).
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