Shanghai’s largest private company vows to return football club to top ranking
Shanghai-based CEFC China Energy Company Limited has acquired a 59.97 percent stake in Czech football club SK Slavia Praha, according to a CEFC press release.
The price was not disclosed.
Fly Sport, a company owned by businessman Jiří Šimáně, has a 39.97 stake in the club.
Šimáně is also a co-owner of airline firm Travel Service, which CEFC is also reportedly interested in.
CEFC is China’s sixth-largest private company, and the largest in Shanghai.
News server Neovlivni.cz said that the sale was mediated by former defense minister Jaroslav Tvrdík, who is currently president of the Mixed Czech-Chinese Chamber of Mutual Cooperation.
Slavia has been in financial trouble since 2010, owing 112 million Kč to its former owner, ENIC Sports Ltd. This led to many key players being sold off to service the debt.
Slavia last won the Czech league title in 2009, before its financial troubles.
CEFC said it hopes to rebuild Slavia into a strong and stable football club and return it to the top ranking.
“CEFC plans to support Czech football on a club level as well as being interested in being a partner of the national squad and youth football,” CEFC said in its press release.
Former transport minister Aleš Řebíček (2006–09) bought into the troubled club in August 2011, but Slavia’s situation did not markedly improve and a sale was seen as likely for some time.
The club’s history dates back to November 1892, making it just a year older than its cross-town rival, AC Sparta Praha, which played its first game in November 1893.
CEFC has also recently bought two buildings in Prague: Martinický palác at Hradčanské náměstí and the building of former bank Živnobanka on Na Příkopě in Prague 1. Na Příkopě has the highest retail rents in the city.
CEFC also raised its stake in Czech-Slovak financial group J&T Finance.