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Fosun look to reduce spending on Wolves under stake plan

Wolves’ owners Fosun International are looking to rein in their spending on the club under any new investment – as they revealed £20m profits for last season.

Fosun are said to be looking to sell a 20 per cent stake in Wolves for between £50m and £100m, which would value the club at around £350m. The Chinese investment firm paid £45m for the club when they bought it from Steve Morgan in July 2016.

It’s more to test the market, to see the value of Wolves,” chairman Jeff Shi told the Financial Times.

Shi says Fosun is looking for an investor to help promote the team outside of China, where the club enjoyed success on and off the pitch in July, winning the Premier League’s Asia Trophy competition and promoting the club with a series of commercial events.

He said: “It’s more about getting the right partner with strategic connections. We are not just trying to sell the shares to anybody, we are very picky. We are doing it slowly.”

Shi says Fosun is likely to scale down its direct investment in the team, which it has provided with interest-free loans worth at least £75m in recent years.

That investment has so far helped Wolves break their transfer record five times in three years, with around £228m ploughed into signings (excluding sales).

The £75m the club has been loaned has been turned around to the tune of £20m profits since the club’s return to the Premier League.

Shi explained: “When we won the Championship, Wolves was not strong enough to be independent and we could only depend on our parent group.

But now we are much stronger. Now is not the time to always get funding from Fosun.”

The collapse of travel firm Thomas Cook is not thought to lead to any withdrawal of commitment to Wolves. Shi has denied that the proposed sale of a stake in Wolves is due to a shortage of funds at Fosun.

Fosun stated it is still in the early stages of deciding whether a public listing of Wolves, alongside other sports assets, would be viable.

In January 2016, Gestifute, the powerful football agency founded by influential Portuguese agent Jorge Mendes, entered into a wide-ranging strategic partnership with Foyo Culture and Entertainment, a subsidiary of Fosun International.

Mendes has been a key part of Wolves’ transfer dealings under Fosun.

Another key future project for Fosun is the redevelopment of Molineux.

Speaking at a recent fans’ parliament meeting, Wolves’ head of marketing Russell Jones admitted the chances of work starting in May 2020, as had been targeted, are small, with efforts to carry out the project “properly as opposed to quickly”.

Wolves plan to rebuild the Steve Bull, Sir Jack Hayward and Billy Wright Stands across multiple phases to expand the capacity of Molineux to 38,000, 43,000 and 50,000, respectively.