China’s LionRock Capital partners HK-listed Li Ning for sports-focused PE fund

A Benjamin Franklin U.S. 100-dollar banknote and a Chinese 100-yuan banknote depicting the late Chinese Chairman Mao Zedong, are seen in a picture illustration in Beijing

Chinese private equity firm LionRock Capital has teamed up with Hong Kong-listed sports brand Li Ning to establish a consumer and sports-focused private equity fund – LionRock Capital Partners.

In a statement, Li Ning, the sports brand’s chairman who will serve as the non-executive chairman of the fund, said the fund’s investment strategy focuses on investing in industry-leading profitable, growth-stage consumer or sports-focused companies.

The fund emphasises on cross-border transactions between China and other key markets, Li said.

“We are looking forward to working together with LionRock in investing in leading consumer & sports companies, with a common goal of leveraging our deep experience & networks in China to increase business growth,” Li said.

Daniel Tseung, founder and managing director of LionRock Capital, said the fund’s establishment comes as the PE firm is “extremely optimistic” about the outlook of the sports and consumer industries in China.

“LionRock Capital and Li Ning look forward to working together in providing our portfolio companies with not only financial capital, but our collective relationships and experience in building industry-leading companies,” Tseung said.

In January, LionRock Capital bought a 31.05 per cent stake in Italian soccer club Inter Milan from Indonesian businessman and club’s former owner Erick Thohir. No financial details of the transaction were disclosed.

Inter Milan was taken over in 2016 by Chinese electronics retailer Suning Commerce Group, which bought a 68.55 percent stake from Thohir for EUR270 million ($307 million).

It also led the $2.5 million pre-Series A funding round in Bangalore-based food delivery start-up HungerBox last year.

Aside from Inter Milan, LionRock Capital’s portfolio companies include ride-hailing service DiDi, Jinxin IVF, Gourmet Masters, Suning Sports, fintech firm Lufax, Go-Jek, Meilele, and Hailo, among others.