The CTBC Financial Holding Group (中信集團) has signaled its return to professional baseball by purchasing the Brother Elephants (兄弟象), in a reported NT$400 million (US$13.5 million) deal yesterday.
It was the blockbuster deal that Taiwanese baseball fans and media had been waiting for, after weeks of speculation about the club’s possible sale and behind-the-scene negotiations with potential buys.
Those included the Lih Pao Group (麗寶集團), a real-estate developer and amusement park proprietor, and two big names in the banking sector: Fubon Financial Holding Co (富邦金控), and E. Sun Commercial Bank (玉山銀行).
It is a return to familiar territory, as the company owned and operated the Chinatrust Whales (中信鯨) team, which played in the professional circuit CPBL (Chinese Professional Baseball League) from 1996 to 2008.
The owners of the Taipei-based Brother Elephants, the Hung family of the Brother Hotel, announced that the club would be put up for sale last month, after years of mounting financial losses despite the team’s reputation as having the largest fan base in Taiwan.
When reached for confirmation, Brother Elephants chairman Hung Juei-ho (洪瑞河) said he could not comment on the news reports due to a non-disclosure clause in the negotiated deal, but an official press conference will be held next week.
He also said that one of the reasons the negotiations with Lih Pao Land broke down was the company wanted to move the ballclub to Greater Taichung where the real-estate developer is based.
“I want the team to stay in Taipei, it is our nation’s capital. If our capital city does not have a pro baseball team, it would be a very strange situation,” Hung said.