Chinese businessman buys Aston Villa in £60m deal

Chinese businessman buys Aston Villa in £60m deal

Aston Villa football club has been purchased by multinational conglomerate Recon Group in a £60m deal.

The new agreement will see business owner, Dr Tony Xia, become chairman of the club should football authorities agree.

Recon Group is a privately owned holding company that owns the controlling interest in five publicly listed companies on the Hong Kong and Chinese stock exchanges, and many other private companies employing 35,000 people in 75 countries.

The group operates in six core sectors, including IT Infrastructure and Services for Smart Cities, Health & Agriculture, New Energy & Smart Transportation, Engineering & Design, Recon Capital including financial services and Sports, Leisure & Tourism.

A statement from Aston Villa said: “Dr Xia played football as a striker until he finished at college and football has remained his passion.

“Dr Xia decided to buy an iconic football club in England as the cornerstone of his Sports, Leisure and Tourism Division. He became a fan of Aston Villa many years ago and is delighted at the opportunity to become the new owner.

“Dr Xia's immediate objective is to return Aston Villa to the Premier League and then to have the club finish in the top six, bringing European football back to Villa Park. He plans to make Aston Villa the most famous football club in China with a huge fan base.”

The new ownership will see former owner Randy Lerner step down from his role.

In an official statement Lerner said: “Tony has built his career around infrastructure. He is certainly a hugely successful businessman but importantly for me he is passionate about architecture, site design and planning.

“I remain convinced that this is a crucial part of the club's future as it provides a critical, long-term second source of revenue and therefore sustainability for the club from which squad-funding can potentially come.

Neil Rami, Chief Executive, Marketing Birmingham, said:"The sale of Aston Villa to the Recon Group is a welcome continuation of a trend for Chinese investment into Birmingham. We rank number one amongst regional cities attracting Chinese investors and the West Midlands is the only region in the UK with a trading surplus with China.

"The sale will undoubtedly help build Birmingham’s profile in a vital growth market at a key moment in the city’s economic resurgence.

"The Recon deal will no doubt further develop the city’s reputation in China and I am sure will bolster our international inward investment efforts.”