Birmingham to Sell 12% Stake in Soccer Team for $5.8 Million

Birmingham International Holdings Ltd., which controls English soccer team Birmingham City, agreed to sell a 12 percent stake in the club for HK$45 million ($5.8 million) to help enter mainland China.

The buyer is a Beijing advertising company, according to a Hong Kong stock exchange filing from Birmingham yesterday, which gave the purchaser’s name in only Chinese. It translates as Beijing Liangzhu International Media & Advertising Co.

“The company can raise further capital from the disposal and will be able to collaborate with the new Chinese partners to enter into the China market through their connections,” Birmingham City said in the filing.

An Internet search turned up no English- or Chinese-language website for Beijing Liangzhu nor any news media mention of a company by that name before the sale filing. Birmingham International said it was in talks to sell as much as a 24 percent stake in the soccer club.

No one answered the phone at Hong Kong-based Birmingham International in a call before regular business hours in the city.

Birmingham International, then called Grandtop International Holdings Ltd., bought a 94 percent stake in the soccer club in 2009 for 81.5 million pounds ($130 million at the time). The company now owns 96.6 percent, according to yesterday’s filing.

Carson Yeung, Birmingham International’s largest shareholder and former chairman, is awaiting a verdict, due Feb. 28, in his trial in Hong Kong on five charges of money laundering. He pleaded not guilty.

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