LeSports founder relinquishes control – reports

Jia Yueting, founder of Chinese internet company LeEco, has agreed to sell the majority of his stake in the group’s LeSports division, according to multiple reports.

The EJInsight website, citing Tencent Finance, said a new consortium made up of several veteran investors will replace Jia to become the largest shareholder of the company. Jia currently holds a 30.66 per cent stake in LeSports.

Terms of the deal and the make-up of the consortium were not disclosed, but the agreement will reportedly cover LeSports’ outstanding debts, with funds left over to go to the company’s accounts.

LeSports will also reportedly shake up its board of directors after the deal in an effort to enhance its corporate governance and management.

In May, LeSports said it had sealed a new round of funding valuing it at Y24bn (€3.08bn/$3.68bn), adding that its investors would form a new body to supervise its financial affairs. LeSports has been shedding sports rights this year amid cost-cutting measures at its parent company.

In March, online streaming company PPTV agreed an exclusive deal for domestic digital rights to the Chinese Super League. The agreement covered the 2017 CSL season and was struck with the China Sports Media agency. CSM had previously sold digital rights to LeSports under a two-season agreement, covering 2016 and 2017.

The CSL announcement came after CSM acquired rights in the country for Asian Football Confederation events after the governing body terminated an agreement with LeSports. CSM’s deal will run for the remainder of the four-year cycle, from 2017 to 2020.

The exclusive deal covers the Asian Champions League, Asia’s final round of qualifying for the 2018 Fifa World Cup and the Asian Cup from 2017 to 2020. The AFC said it had “no alternative but to terminate its contract with LeTV, which had been signed in August 2015”. It had earlier been reported that LeSports had fallen behind with rights-fee instalments.