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2015 in review: the sports business in China (II)

By He Lanying 31 Dec 2015

2015 has been a prominent and fruitful year for Chinese sports development with a series of giant business deals and huge investments emerging over past the 12 months. All the signs indicate that China’s influence in the global sports market is growing by the day. Now we will look back at some of the year’s headline-making news in the Chinese sports industry.



FC Barcelona and IMG signed a strategic partnership whereby the multinational sports management firm will exclusively represent the commercial interests of the Club in China. The agreement covers marketing and branding strategy, sponsorships, friendlies and travel.


FIFA and the Chinese Football Association (CFA) signed a Memorandum of Understanding at the home of FIFA in Zurich.


Kobe announced their partnership with Sina and Alibaba under which the three sides will launch a documentary based on Kobe Bryant Muse.

Euroleague Basketball and HBN (Beijing Hualu Baina Film & TV Inc.) announced an agreement to form a brand new company in China that will manage the rights of Europe's premier professional basketball league and further grow its commercial opportunities in Asia's biggest market.


Real Madrid launched its official online shop on the Tmall platform in China.


Beijing Hualu Baina Film & TV Inc. (HNB) officially announced its partnership with the Chinese Super League, the top football division in China.

China's Alibaba Group and Sina announced an agreement with Kobe Inc., the newly formed company of NBA superstar Kobe Bryant.


China announced that it has struck a cooperative agreement with Russia on 21 sports programmes at a regional sports exchange conference held in Heilongjiang province on September 24.

China’s Guangzhou Evergrande FC signed a strategic deal with La Liga giants Real Madrid FC at the Bernabeu Stadium.


English Premier League giants Arsenal FC secured a partnership with iRENA, a leading Chinese sports and cultural development company, to open a number of Arsenal Soccer Schools across China.


Representatives from Tencent visited the home of Spanish football giant FC Barcelona and agreed a partnership on social media business.



ZTE has signed double Olympic gold medalist and five-time world champion over 10,000m, Haile Gebrselassie, as its official smartphone brand ambassador for Ethiopia.


American brand Skullcandy officially announced an endorsement deal with Ning Zetao, a Chinese swimming starlet.

Soccer star James Rodriguez was announced as a brand ambassador for Huawei.

Pac-12 and Alibaba Group Holding Limited, the world’s largest mobile and online commerce company, announced a joint partnership.


China's PEAK Sport signed a 5-year contract with Serbian national basketball captain Milos Teodosic.

Gillette, a leading men's safety razors supplier, appointed China’s emerging swimming star Ning Zetao as a latest brand ambassador.


PEAK Sport, a leading Chinese brand of sports equipment, officially signed a multi-year deal with NBA star Dwight Howard.

Chinese Luneng Group, a Shandong-based business group, signed a two-year strategic partnership with former soccer star David Beckham.

ExxonMobil signed a partnership with Yi Jianlian, a CBA player who played for a few NBA teams.


China’s auto brand Geely officially annouced that they have signed Chinese swimming superstar Sun Yang as their brand ambassador.
Chilean International and Arsenal forward Alexis Sanchez signed a deal with Chinese mobile phone manufacturer Huawei as a brand ambassador for the Chinese company in his country.


Robert Lewandowski, the captains of Polish national team and Bayern Munich soccer star, signed a personal endorsement deal with Huawei.

Sports properties 


Chinese billionaire Wang Jianlin agreed to buy a 20 percent stake in La Liga ­champions Atletico Madrid for around 45 million euros.


Dalian Wanda Group reached an agreement to acquire Infront Sports & Media AG from the European private equity firm Bridgepoint for an estimated EUR 1.05 billion (USD 1.2 billion).


French second division soccer club Sochaux announced they have signed an agreement with Chinese company Ledus over the sale of 100% of the club's shares for 7 million euros.


On Aug 27, Chinese conglomerate Dalian Wanda Group reached a deal to acquire the World Triathlon Corp (WTC) from Providence Equity Partners for $650 million.


Alibaba Group Holding Limited, announced it has established the Alibaba Sports Group together with Sina Corporation and Yunfeng Capital to transform China’s sports industry through Internet-enabled technologies.


Chinese conglomerate Dalian Wanda Group announced that Infront Sports & Media and the World Triathlon Corporation (WTC), along with its IRONMAN brand, would be integrated into a newly formed entity, Wanda Sports.


A Chinese consortium led by CMC Holding and CITIC Capital agreed to buy a 13% stake in City Football Group for US$400m (around £265m).

Dalian Wanda Group announced that it has set up a global sports headquarters in Guangzhou.

Suning announced, on December 17th, the takeover of CSL side Jiangsu Sainty FC for 523 million yuan.

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