Chinese Private Equity Firm Orient Hontai Close To Takeover Of Mediapro Owner Imagina
Chinese private equity firm Orient Hontai "agreed to buy a majority stake in Spanish sports rights group Imagina" for $1B, the latest deal from "deep-pocketed Chinese investors to transform the Asian country" into a global football "powerhouse," according to González & Ruano of REUTERS. Imagina, "usually just known as Mediapro after the name of one of its subsidiaries," has the rights to distribute La Liga. Imagina Founder & Chair Jaume Roures said that Orient Hontai "had reached a preliminary deal with three of Imagina’s shareholders" to buy a 54% stake. Roures said that the deal "still had to be authorized by the Chinese government, which has cracked down on overseas football investments in recent months," though he hoped the operation could be closed in early '18. He said, "The deal has been made. We hope to close it during the first quarter of 2018." Orient Hontai entered into exclusive talks with Imagina’s shareholders in May, "scooping a dozen other bidders," including French media group Vivendi, Dalian Wanda Group and Liberty Media. The selling shareholders are Spanish private equity firm Torreal, which holds 23% of the share capital, Mexican broadcaster Televisa, which owns 19%, and one of the firm's founders, Gerard Romy, who has 12% (REUTERS, 10/17). The AFP reported a Torreal spokesperson said, "Negotiations are taking place, but there is still nothing signed" (AFP, 10/21).