Timberwolves’ new Chinese stakeholder on buying spree

Shanghai (AFP) – A Chinese businessman has bought a minority stake in the NBA’s Minnesota Timberwolves, his company and the league said, after taking over Spanish La Liga football team Granada in a 37 million euro deal earlier this month. 

Jiang Lizhang, 34, runs a little-known Shanghai-based marketing firm called Double-Edged Sports (Desports), but has secured spots in two of the world’s highest-profile sporting leagues in as many weeks.

He bought a five percent holding in the Minneapolis-based Timberwolves and associated women’s team the Lynx from owner Glen Taylor, who retains a majority stake, Desports said Thursday on a verified Chinese social media account. It did not give an amount for the purchase.

The deal makes him the first Chinese citizen to have an ownership stake in an NBA team, the league said in a statement.

“My goal is to bring China and this great league closer, and build the Timberwolves and Lynx fan base in our country,” it quoted Jiang as saying.

New York-based real estate magnate Meyer Orbach also took a stake in the teams at the same time.

The purchase comes shortly after Jiang bought Granada CF, paying the club’s Italian former owner Giampaolo Pozzo a reported 37 million euros ($41 million).

In a letter on Desports’ website Jiang described his new role as Granada’s owner as the “biggest challenge” he has ever taken on.

“You cannot change the direction of the wind, but you can take control of the sail,” he said.

Days after the deal was announced Granada replaced their manager, Juan Carlos Cordero, although it was not clear whether he was dismissed by Jiang.

Cordero wished Jiang “the best of luck”, in a statement on the club’s website, saying he believed the new owner “will know how to guide Granada FC through this new stage of good health and prosperity to great things”.

Jiang aims to retain the club’s place in Spain’s top flight and bring in more Chinese elements to increase its profile in the People’s Republic, which President Xi Jinping aims to turn into a footballing power.

Born into a fishing family in the eastern Chinese province of Fujian, Jiang started his sports career selling advertisements for a Chinese sports newspaper. 

In 2004 he founded Desports, which brokers deals between Chinese companies and international sports organisations, such as tennis sponsorship and broadcasting deals, including for La Liga’s Chinese television rights, its website shows.

Jiang sold Desports to Shanghai-listed Wuhan DDMC Culture for 821 million yuan (now $123 million) in shares last July, but still runs the company.

“In the future, we might buy more football clubs, including Chinese ones,” Xinhua quoted a Desports source close to Jiang as saying.

25+ Channels With Sports & News
  • Starting price: $33/mo. for fubo Latino Package
  • Watch Premier League, Liga MX, MLS & World Cup
  • Includes ESPN, FOX, Univision, TUDN and more
Favorite Leagues At The Best Price
  • Starting price: $7.99/mo. for Live TV Package
  • Watch Argentine league, Brasileirāo and Copa Libertadores
  • Includes beIN SPORTS, GolTV, TyC Sports and more
Many Sports & ESPN Originals
  • Price: $6.99/mo. (or get ESPN+, Hulu & Disney+ for $13.99/mo.)
  • Features LaLiga, Bundesliga, MLS, Copa del Rey & more
  • Also includes daily ESPN FC news & highlights show
Live TV, Soccer & Originals
  • Starting price: $4.99/mo.
  • Features Champions League, Serie A, Europa League & more
  • Includes CBS, Star Trek & CBS Sports HQ
175 Premier League Games & PL TV
  • Starting price: $4.99/mo. for Peacock Premium
  • Watch 175 exclusive EPL games per season
  • Includes Premier League TV channel plus movies, TV shows & more
Get All 3 And Save 30%
  • $13.99/mo. for ESPN+, Disney+ & Hulu
  • Includes Bundesliga, LaLiga, NHL & the home to UFC
  • Features Marvel, Star Wars + shows & movies for your entire family

Leave a Reply

Translate »