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China's Evergrande 'world's most valuable club'

©Reuters ©Reuters

China's Guangzhou Evergrande Taobao were proclaimed the holders of an unlikely title by the official news agency Xinhua on Wednesday: the world's most valuable football club, AFP reports.

A transaction in the club's shares on the National Equities Exchange and Quotations (NEEQ), the obscure over-the-counter Chinese market where it is listed, gave it a market capitalisation of $3.35 billion, Xinhua said.

"Guangzhou Evergrande tops world clubs in market value," it trumpeted, as money pours into the Chinese game with President Xi Jinping pushing to turn the country -- ranked a lowly 96th by FIFA -- into a footballing power.

The deal Xinhua cited, for 36,000 shares at 55 yuan apiece ($8.50), represented a jump of nearly 40 percent from the 40 yuan each at which the club sold shares in a fundraising only two months ago.

The implied market capitalisation narrowly surpassed the $3.26 billion Forbes magazine said Real Madrid was worth when it named the Spanish side the world's most valuable sports team in 2015.

It also bested Premier League club Manchester United, whose New York-listed stock closed at $14.32 on Tuesday for a market capitalisation of $2.35 billion, according to the US exchange.

On Wednesday, Evergrande's stock traded a fraction higher on NEEQ, with deals at 55.10 yuan.

The club is majority-owned by property developer Evergrande, with e-commerce giant Alibaba holding a stake of nearly 40 percent.

But it lost around $75 million in 2014, according to previously released results.

The reigning Asian champions have started the new season slowly, with a draw and a defeat in their first two AFC Champions League matches, and went down 2-1 to little-known Chongqing Lifan in their opening Chinese Super League game at the weekend.

The club splashed out 42 million euros ($46 million) on Colombian striker Jackson Martinez in the recent transfer window, when Chinese clubs spent a world-leading 331 million euros, according to the Transfermarkt website.

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