LeEco’s sports subsidiary may land USD 1.1B in Series B funding

The HNA Group’s Caissa Travel on Tuesday announced that it will invest RMB 1.2 billion (USD 185 million) along with two other HNA Group companies for the Series B funding of LeSports, in exchange for 5.85% of its shares.

Caissa also said that LeSports got RMB 7 billion in total in its Series B funding, pushing its valuation to RMB 20.5 billion.

With a profit of RMB 417 million in 2015, only two years after the company spun off from LeEco, LeSports now dominates the sports entertainment sector.

Lei Zhenjian, the CEO of LeSports, posted on his WeChat that this round of funding involves nearly 30 investors, the details of which will be published in late March. There are some big names among these investors: Wang Jianlin, the richest businessman in China, who operates Wanda Group, his son Wang Sicong, and China Media Capital, an insider told National Business Daily.

LeSports was valued at RMB 2.8 billion after its Series A funding last May. Within a year, its valuation has grown six times.

LeSports is likely to see more profit after a series of expansions. It acquired sports live-streaming site Zhangyu.tv in late January and purchased 56% of Soda Soccer’s shares to strengthen its soccer game analysis. It also bought exclusive internet broadcasting rights for the China Football Association Super League (CSL) using RMB 2.7 billion in Feburary. With the CSL and Major League Baseball as supporters, LeSports is expected to achieve a higher revenue in 2016. This year’s biggest sporting events the Rio Olympics and the UEFA 2016 may bring even more opportunities for LeSports.

LeSports CEO Lei Zhenjian also told People.cn that LeSports has plans to list in 2017.

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