More potential buyers of Brother Elephants emerge

By Jason Pan  /  Staff reporter

Sat, Oct 26, 2013 - Page 18

More potential buyers have emerged for the Brother Elephants baseball franchise, with the list now including banking group Fubon Financial Holding Co, real-estate developer Farglory Group and funeral services provider Lung Yen Life Service Co.

When the Brother Elephants were put up for sale last week, the potential buyers already included some of Taiwan’s top companies: HTC Corp, Hon Hai Group, Cathay Financial Holding Co, CTBC Financial Holding Co and Wei Chuan Foods Corp.

Owned by the Hung family and an original franchise of the Chinese Professional Baseball League (CPBL), the Brother Elephants were put up for sale following heavy financial losses over a number of years. The club is valued at between NT$300 million and NT$500 million (US$10.2 million and US$17 million).

Lung Yen Co public affairs division head Ho Chi-sheng (何啟聖) said on Tuesdsay last week: “At our company internal meeting, we have reached a decision to invest in baseball. After conducting a business feasibility study, we will start negotiations with the Brother Elephants soon.”

Among all the mentioned companies, Farglory Group seems to be the most suitable match to operate a baseball franchise. Besides having deep pockets, Farglory is the developer of the Taipei Dome in a collaboration with the Taipei City Government. The project is currently under construction on a block of land north of the Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall and is due to be completed in two years’ time.

The main feature of the Taipei Dome is an indoor baseball stadium, which will have a capacity of 40,000, while the rest of the facility will incorporate a shopping complex, hotels, restaurants, an amusement park and a sports museum.

Farglory Group vice general manager Tsai Chung-yi (蔡宗易) told reporters on Tuesday last week that his company has a big vision, with long-term programs to invest in both amateur and professional baseball teams, with the Taipei Dome set to become the most important and largest sports venue in the capital.

“However, our short-term plan is to get the Taipei Dome opened and to operate it successfully. We will organize teams at the youth level first. As for entering the CPBL to operate a pro team, we are looking at about five to 10 years,” he said.

These fresh developments bode well for Taiwanese sports fans, as besides the possible buyout, there is also speculation that two once disbanded CPBL teams will be revived.

CTBC is said to be interested in bringing back the Chinatrust Whales, whose franchise the company retained.

There have also been reports that Farglory is talking with Wei Chuan to revive the Weichuan Dragons, three-time champions in the late 1990s.