Retail in Asia

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China’s Li Ning considers taking company private

Chinese entrepreneur and Olympic champion Li Ning is considering taking his namesake sportswear company private from the Hong Kong stock exchange, according to sources.

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Li is considering leading a consortium to buy out Li Ning Co Ltd, which has a market capitalisation of approximately HKD 52.85 billion (USD 6.8 billion), sources told Reuters.

A number of global and regional private equity firms, including TPG, PAG and Hillhouse Investment, have been tapped to see if they are interested in joining as an investor, according to the report.

The discussions to take Li Ning Co private are in the early stages and details have not been finalised, said the sources, adding Li feels his company is undervalued in Hong Kong and is looking for a more valuable figure in a potential buyout.

Li did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Li, 61, founded Li Ning Co a few years after retiring from a successful gymnastics career in 1988, and made its Hong Kong debut in 2004. Today, Li owns slightly more than 10 percent of the company.

In 2023, Li Ning lost 70 percent of its market value, making the Chinese sportswear firm the worst-performing Hong Kong blue chip last year.

Li Ning Co said in December it would buy a Hong Kong commercial and retail property from Henderson Land for HKD 2.21 billion as its Hong Kong headquarters.

Li also said at the time he planned to repurchase up to HKD 3 billion value of shares from the open market in the next six months, according to Reuters.