The chairman of the company leading a £130m bid for Hull City football club has been arrested in Hong Kong as part of an anti-corruption probe.
David Yip Chung Wai, who took over the board of GreaterChina Professional Resources after the bid in November last year, was arrested by Hong Kong’s Independent Commission Against Corruption on Thursday, according to a statement by the company.
The deal for Hull is one of a flood of bids from Chinese investors for European football clubs as they seek to support President Xi Jinping’s goal of making China a powerhouse for the sport.
Other deals include Silvio Berlusconi’s €740m sale of AC Milan to Chinese businessman Yonghong Li and a bid for a stake in Brentford FC by Chien Lee, a Chinese-American investor who already owns French club Nice.
GreaterChina announced its non-binding bid for Hull City last October and said it was part of a consortium that also included Camsing Global, a mainland brand promoter. The company said at the time that buying the club could create “unparalleled opportunities” in media advertising and related fields in China and from selling Hull-related merchandise.
Hull sit 17th in the UK’s Premier League table, one place above the relegation zone.
On Friday, GreaterChina made no reference to its Hull City bid, which is subject to approval by the UK’s Football Association, and said only that it believed Mr Yip’s arrest “has no material adverse impact to the group, and the business and operations of the group remain normal”.
The company did not immediately respond to a request for further comment.
Shares in the company, which is listed on Hong Kong’s junior Growth Enterprise Market, fell as much as 8.5 per cent on Friday before recovering slightly to trade about 7 per cent lower at HK$0.55.
Mr Yip was appointed chairman of the company in November of last year, having served on the board since July 2014.
GreaterChina earns most of its revenues from asset appraisal, but has branched into secured lending and recently disclosed it had arranged a HK$64m ($8.3m) second mortgage for a customer. It is also in talks to buy a stake in a Hong Kong healthcare screening clinic.
The company swung to a HK$26.8m loss for the final quarter of 2017, compared with a profit of HK$64.1m in the same period the previous year, after it marked down the value of stock investments.
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