Yao Ming has replaced his Houston Rockets jersey with a tailor-made suit. (Photo/Xinhua)
Retired Chinese NBA star Yao Ming is attempting to become a giant in the world of private equity, reports the Guangzhou-based 21st Century Business Herald.
The 7'6" former Houston Rockets center, who reportedly lost US$7 million on the stock exchange recently, has been involved in two Chinese private equity fund management companies since 2011. The future scope of the two funds is said to total 6.6 billion yuan (US$1 billion).
The first venture, D&F Capital, was established by Yao's agent Lu Hao. D&F Capital is responsible for China's first ever sports-industry-focused private equity fund.
In July last year, Yao took over the majority stake of a broader fund owned by ES Capital Group International and inserted members of his team into key management positions on the board before renaming it the Chongqing Yufu Assets Management Group. Board meeting records confirmed that the fund began operating in August 2011 with a budget of 2.06 million yuan (US$324,000) for the first three months.
The fund, which is said to be currently seeking investors, aims to have an initial scale of around 300 million to 400 million yuan (US$47 million to 63 million) but no more than 500 million yuan (US$78.5 million). The first phase of the fundraising will end this month.
It is not clear how much of his own money Yao has invested in the funds, though there is no doubt that he has been trying to use his name and influence to attract investors. Yao personally visited Chongqing last November to push the development of the fund along.
Sources told the 21st Century Business Herald that the fund's first investment could be in the state-owned Yinhai Leasing in Chongqing. Yinhai has a registered capital of 300 million yuan (US$47 million) and has been identified as a key "backbone" enterprise by the Chongqing municipal government. Chongqing mayor Huang Qifan was quoted as saying in November 2011 that he hoped to increase capital in the company to 2 billion yuan (US$314 million).
Yao had invested in a wide range of areas prior to private equity, including digital music, basketball teams, gymnasiums and red wine. The 31-year-old has been taking classes at the Antai College of Economics and Management of Shanghai Jiao Tong University since 2011.
Yao Ming 姚明
Lu Hao 陸浩
Huang Qifan 黃奇帆