Reports are coming out today about Tony Xia and Recon group's finances/business

http://on.ft.com/1YI8Nn7

The Chinese business group which has agreed to buy Aston Villa football club admitted on Friday that it controlled only one listed company, not the five previously claimed in a press release.

The admission raises questions about the due diligence on Tony Xia, the businessman behind the deal.

“Xia was never involved in the planning or designing of the Bird’s Nest stadium. Xia’s expertise is in urban design”

 

Forgot you need subscription... Here it is from the FT:

 

The Chinese business group which has agreed to buy Aston Villa football club admitted on Friday that it controlled only one listed company, not the five previously claimed in a press release.

The admission raises questions about the due diligence on Tony Xia, the businessman behind the deal. He is chairman of the Recon Group, a Beijing and Hangzhou based private holding company which controls 75 per cent of Lotus Health Group, a large producer of the food additive MSG.

On the website of the Aston Villa football club, a biography of Mr Xia — posted on May 18 when the sale was announced — reads: “Recon Group is a privately owned holding company that owns the controlling interest in five publicly listed companies on the Hong Kong and Chinese stock exchanges.”

The Recon Group website appears to show the group has several listed subsidiaries, however stock exchange filings show that Recon Group only has a significant stake in Lotus Health.

A Hangzhou-based spokesman for Recon reached by telephone on Friday, who identified himself only as Mr Jin, admitted the company “currently only has controlling share in Lotus Health”.

Meanwhile, he said: “The acquisition deals for the remaining four companies are still being finalised and should come out soon.” He declined to name the companies.

The Recon Group said the mistaken information contained in the press release had been the result of a “miscommunication” with Aston Villa, and they would ask the football club to change the wording of the statement.

The information raises questions not just about the truthfulness of the claims surrounding Mr Xia’s business dealings, but about the financial health of Mr Xia’s business group, which agreed this week to pay an undisclosed sum for Villa.

Last month, Lotus — Recon’s only verifiable asset — announced it had made a net loss in 2015 of Rmb508.5m ($77.6m) on revenues of Rmb1.7bn, compared with a net profit of Rmb23.9m the previous year.

Lotus produces 150,000 tonnes of MSG, exporting to more than 70 countries every year, according to Shanghai stock exchange filings, as well as other food additives.

Recon Group’s other revenues were unclear as the group does not appear to have ever published an audited financial statement.

In addition Mr Jin denied an assertion by Steve Hollis, Villa’s Chairman, who was quoted on Thursday saying that Mr Xia had helped to build the Bird’s Nest Olympic stadium in Beijing.

“Again, you need to ask him but he is responsible for the Bird’s Nest in Beijing and some of the other major iconic developments in China” Mr Hollis was quoted in an article in the Birmingham Mail.

“Xia was never involved in the planning or designing of the Bird’s Nest stadium. Xia’s expertise is in urban design” said Mr Jin.

A spokesman for Aston Villa confirmed that Mr Hollis was accurately quoted, but said he was not sure what information Mr Hollis was citing.

So turns out they only hold shares in one company, not 5. That company they hold shares in posted significant losses. And Recon group has never been audited before meaning it looks like Hollis has swollen a whole load of BS from this guy Xia.

Be interesting to see if the deal goes ahead or if the Football League approve as this certainly brings into question the guy's credibility and makes a further mockery of our season

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Let the bashing begin!!

Let's wait and see what happens, at the end of the day we support the team and we have nothing to shout about until August!

Welcome to the life is a Villa fan, did it ever run smoothly?
Oh dear!! I was just starting to sleep again. I hope these boys are the real deal,we simply cant afford to fool about in this division.I suppose all we can do is just wait and see.

I suspect it's more to do with the odd nature (from our perspective) of Chinese companies. Most seem to have some state involvement in the background, including investment. Auditing is often not considered necessary. Don't think it's time to panic. Yet.

The important thing is getting a new manager in and the squad sorted out.

I think your right McParland. I've said a few days ago I wouldn't be surprised that there is other " faces " maybe even the government involved in Villa. I really don't give a monkeys, if they spend money by bringing in a good manager and players that ok with me.

Let's embrace and support our new owner, it's exciting times ahead.

I've been reading more about what he's been saying. This isn't an impulse buy; he's been thinking about football for years. He's also looked at the club in depth, and thought about the opportunities and problems. He knows it needs a new structure. But he has other good ideas like raising the input from sports science, having training which is effective but avoids needless injuries. We've been suffering from the "injured in training" syndrome for some time, and other PL clubs are even worse (Arsenal in particular). He's talked about bringing young Chinese players over; seems a strange idea at first, but then think of a Bodymoor which is renowned as a centre of excellence for training.

There may be some unknowns about this bid, but he's certainly highly ambitious and we've been praying for that for years. Let's see where it takes us. Could be very exciting.

To be honest McParland, i admire your optimism - as i have always have, but some serious newspapers are starting to report on the credibility, or lack thereof, of this Xia person.

Perhaps they are just fishing for click-bait (not like the FT and the Telegraph, but anyway), but i would imagine that both the Premier League and the Football League will be looking closely at this. They would look very silly if they ratified a sale of a big British football club to another dodgy foreign owner wouldn't they? 

I have bad feelings about this. Would love to be proved wrong, of course....

Let's see where the "fit and proper" test takes us. That ought to satisfy any questions.

It's one thing to have a dodgy owner from say Thailand; it's another to have one from China. The Chinese authorities are very sensitive about their reputation. A dodgy owner could end up in front of the firing squad.

My suspicion is that Xia has all the backing necessary to make a go of this from within China. But we shall see.

"We want to use Villa's history and it's substantial fan base around the world to also promote Lotus Health products and services globally."

“The ideal scenario would be for fans to enjoy Lotus Health products at Lotus Villa Park, it would be a great great advert for both brands."

Given Lotus Health has made almost 50% losses on its revenue this year sounds to me like he's taking a risk on buying Villa as a way to hopefully change his primary shareholding company's fortunes. 

Say it fails to increase revenue and decrease losses for Lotus Health, and Villa fail to get promoted first or second time of asking, you think he's going to be sticking with the Villa long term? Hmmm...

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