Dalian Wanda Group is poised to take ownership of Dalian Yifang Football Club in the Chinese Football Association Super League, marking the company's first investment in domestic soccer teams after 18 years, according to media reports on Thursday.
Wanda would acquire the soccer team from Yifang Group, which has been the owner since 2015, a report on news website finance.sina.com said, adding that a senior management team member has confirmed the deal with the website.
The report did not give further details, such as including the value of the deal or the completion date.
However, the senior management team member said that the ownership transfer could not be completed this year due to "technical" reasons, according to the report. For the 2018 season, Wanda will participate as a sponsor of the team, the person said.
A public relations representative for Wanda told the Global Times on Thursday that she was not aware of the reported deal.
Wanda owned the team, which plays in Wanda's home city of Dalian, Northeast China's Liaoning Province, for more than five years. The team won the league championship for four years before being sold to Dalian Shide Group in 2000. According to media reports, Wanda sold the team because its boss Wang Jianlin was angered about controversial penalties against his team in a game in 1998.
In recent years, Wanda has focused on acquiring overseas sports teams and companies, including a 20 percent stake in Atletico Madrid in the Spanish La Liga and Swiss sports marketing firm Infront Sports & Media AG.
But Wanda and other Chinese companies' overseas investments in the real estate, entertainment, sports and other sectors were targeted in a capital crackdown by Chinese authorities last year. Wanda has also been under serious pressure due to its mounting debt and has been selling off properties to meet debt repayments. At an event on Thursday, Wang did not mention the potential deal in a speech but said that Wanda has turned a tough year around.