China's Evergrande Taobao team applies for stock listing

Staff Writer
Columbus CEO

HONG KONG (AP) — Chinese soccer team Guangzhou Evergrande Taobao, owned by e-commerce giant Alibaba and one of the country's biggest property developers, could become the first club listed in Asia after applying to the Chinese stock market.

Evergrande Real Estate Group Ltd. said in a filing to the Hong Kong stock exchange Thursday that its application for a listing on the so-called New Third Board over-the-counter market has been accepted.

The Chinese Super League team, which won a fourth successive championship last year, has been spending heavily to recruit top talent, paying more than $120 million for players since 2010. Earlier this year it hired Brazil's former 2002 World Cup-winning coach Luiz Felipe Scolari to take the helm.

In 2014, Alibaba Group Holding purchased a 50 percent stake in the team for $192 million but Evergrande recently boosted its share to 60 percent to regain majority control. Formerly known as Guangzhou Evergrande, the team changed its name after the investment by Alibaba, which runs the online shopping site Taobao.

The company said approval was still needed for its listing on the National Equities Exchange and Quotations System, operator of the OTC exchange, which is aimed at smaller companies ineligible to list on the bigger Shanghai and Shenzhen markets.

No timetable was given for the listing.