Lamigo Monkeys’ management yesterday confirmed that the club are being sold to Japan’s Rakuten, saying that a news conference would be held today with representatives from the Tokyo-based e-commerce firm to make an official announcement.
The Japanese-language sports daily Sankei Sports was the first to break the news, reporting that the negotiations over the sale were successful.
The parties are in the process of reaching a deal, said Monkeys general manager Justin Liu (劉玠廷), son of club founder Liu Pao-yu (劉保佑), adding that more details about the transaction would be announced with the Rakutan representatives today.
Justin Liu has kept the league informed about the ongoing negociations, Chinese Professional Baseball League (CPBL) secretary-general Fong Sheng-shien (馮勝賢) said.
CPBL commissioner John Wu (吳志揚) is to attend the news conference today, given the importance of the sale, Fong added.
Management needs to submit sale paperwork to the league and there are several procedural hurdles to jump through, Fong said, adding that the sale could not be finalized until the league’s executive council approved it.
The league’s rules about changing team ownership and adding a shareholder differ, Fong added.
In June, the Monkeys won the CPBL championship, their 13th. They set a record as the nation’s only professional baseball team to win five consecutive titles.
Despite the team’s success, the public was shocked to hear from club management in July that it was looking for a buyer after sustaining losses of NT$1.6 billion (US$51.61 million) over the past 16 years.
According to sports experts, the Japanese e-commerce group is to acquire the team for NT$330 million, a low price to pay for a multinational corporation that can earn about NT$285 billion in sales revenue per year.
However, the price that the group reportedly offered was below market value, the experts said, adding that Rakuten likely offered to become a club shareholder and let Justin Liu continue as manager.
Rakuten owns a professional baseball team in Japan, the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles, and a professional soccer club, Vissel Kobe, in the J1 League.
In 2016, the group beat out other international firms in signing the soccer club Barcelona to a four-year, US$235 million agreement that allows Rakuten to put its name on the front of the side’s jerseys. Rakuten also secured a deal to have a patch with the company brand on the jerseys of the Golden State Warriors.
Next month, Rakuten is to sponsor NBA overseas warmup games between the Toronto Raptors and the Houston Rockets in Japan’s Saitama Prefecture, which would be a first in sports history for an East-Asian country.
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