China’s Richest Man Signs Manchester United Sponsor Deal

Manchester United Press Conference


Hangzhou Wahaha Group Co., the beverage maker owned by China’s richest man, signed a sponsorship deal with 19-time English soccer champion Manchester United Plc to draw sports fans to its energy drink.

The three-year agreement will help Wahaha promote its Qili drink in China, the company said in a statement today. The English club may consume Qili during training and matches, Wahaha spokesman Shan Qining said in an interview.

The club separately announced a three-year sponsorship agreement with China Construction Bank Corp. (939)yesterday, giving the nation’s second-largest lender sole rights to issue Manchester United-branded credit cards in the country.

Manchester United, with its lineup that includes Wayne Rooney and Robin Van Persie, estimates that it has 108 million followers in China, where it’s played 11 times since 1975 and where soccer is the most-played sport. The club, nicknamed “The Red Devils,” estimated in 2011 that 190 million of its 330 million fans were in Asia.

Closely-held Wahaha, which is more than 80 percent owned by 67-year-old billionaire Zong Qinghou, sells bottled water, fruit juices and tea. He has a net worth of $16.6 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.

“The announcement of partnering with Manchester United represents a perfect opening paragraph in the next chapter of our history,” Zong said in the statement.

Read the complete Bloomberg article



Manchester United have added to their growing portfolio of global sponsors by announcing deals with two Chinese companies.

Wahaha, a soft drinks manufacturer, and China Construction Bank (CCB) have both signed region-specific three-year agreements with United.

CCB will hold the exclusive rights to produce the official Manchester United branded credit card in mainland China. Wahaha has been the largest beverage producer in China for the past 11 years and will be the club’s first official soft drinks partner in the country.

“Manchester United has a long association with China, visiting 11 times to play friendly matches,” United commercial director Richard Arnold said. “The first time was in 1975 and the most recent visit in August last year.

Read the entire ESPNFC report

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