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Volume 6 No. 235

Finance

Premier League side Southampton's new owner funded his £200M ($257.5M) takeover of the club "with a loan from a Chinese government-backed bank in Hong Kong," people familiar with the matter said, according to BLOOMBERG. A Chinese investor group led by Lander Sports Development Chair Gao Jisheng "settled the bulk of the acquisition cost with a loan from Hong Kong's Nanyang Commercial Bank Ltd.," according to the sources. The consortium reportedly purchased an 80% stake in Southampton in a deal completed this week. The borrowing is "backed by some of Gao's assets outside of China, including those in the former Portuguese colony of Macau." Nanyang Commercial Bank was bought last year by China Cinda Asset Management Co., a financial group whose "biggest shareholder is the Chinese central government." By obtaining offshore financing in Hong Kong, Gao "skirted a Chinese regulatory clampdown on companies buying trophy assets overseas" like sports teams, film studios and luxury hotels. Lander Sports, which has a market value of $1.4B in Shenzhen, said earlier this year that it agreed to buy control of Southampton from team owner Katharina Liebherr. Gao "later decided to pursue the transaction in a personal capacity," after the listed company said that it terminated its involvement due to "changes in domestic policies." DealGlobe acted as financial adviser to the Gao family in the transaction. A representative for Gao declined to comment, while a spokesperson for Nanyang Commercial Bank said she could not "immediately comment" (BLOOMBERG, 8/17).

News Corp. and Telstra are "planning to list Foxtel on the stock market," according to Lucy Battersby of the SYDNEY MORNING HERALD. To prepare that move, they announced they will merge the subscription TV service they jointly own -- Foxtel -- with News' sports network, FoxSports. In an announcement released on Thursday, the companies revealed the new entity would be 65% owned by News Corp. with Telstra owning the remaining 35%. Currently, Telstra holds 80% of the equity in Foxtel but acts as a 50% owner. News Corp. will "effectively control the new company" with the right to appoint the chair, majority of the board and senior execs. Telstra will be "allowed to appoint some directors." No prices or payments were revealed. Foxtel had 2.7 million subscribers at the end of the financial year, down from 2.8 million the previous year. Key commercial terms of the proposed transaction have been "agreed on a non-binding basis" and the two companies will work to finalize the transaction, including obtaining regulatory approval, in the first half of '18 (SMH, 8/17).

The Victoria, Canada, bid committee for the 2022 Commonwealth Games unveiled a budget on Wednesday of C$955M ($753.6M), according to Cleve Dheensaw of the TIMES COLONIST. It "envisions a regional stadium in the West Shore, arena for gymnastics at a site to be determined, and later converted to an Olympic-size ice rink," temporary venues which include beach volleyball in front of the legislature and three-on-three basketball at Ship Point in the Inner Harbour. The Athletes Village and Officials Village "would be built near Costco in Langford and converted to housing post-Games." The bid committee is asking for C$400M ($315.6M) from the federal government and C$400 million from the British Columbia government, "with no commitment yet from either." While BC Premier John Horgan and Green Party of BC Leader Andrew Weaver expressed "initial excitement" about a Victoria Games, BC Finance Minister Carole James is "being abundantly cautious." The Games require a government body, in this case the province, to "guarantee any cost overruns." Bid Chair David Black said that he has met with James. Black said, "Her job is to say no. We have to convince her. It is not going to be easy." The federal government, meanwhile, must also consider '26, in which Canada will "likely" host 10 World Cup football games, "while Calgary is considering bidding for that year's Winter Olympics." Black added, "The federal government is generally supportive of us but we haven't got there, yet [in terms of a firm commitment]."  Greater Victoria municipalities will be asked to contribute C$25M ($19.7M) of "in-kind services" for '22. Black said that with the provincial and federal spending on the event, Greater Victoria would be "getting back dollars in return for pennies." The rest would come from "sponsorships and marketing" (TIMES COLONIST, 8/16).