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West Brom takeover: Who is Guochuan Lai?

Sport | Published:

Guochuan Lai, the controlling shareholder who has bought West Brom, built his career with China's Palm Eco-Town Development Company Limited.

Over two decades as the company's general manager, Lai helped develop Palm from a plant nursery business into China's largest landscape design and construction company.

Born in Meizhou, in Guangdong province, Lai left Palm in 2014 but remains a director of a number of subsidiary companies.

Those include Belt Collins International (HK) Limited, Palm Landscape (Hong Kong) Limited, Hangzhou Nanyue Palm Landscape Construction Limited and PALM Design Holding.

Since 2014, Lai has focused on private investments and claims to have first become aware of Albion through contacts who took part in the club's 1978 tour of China.

"I am a lifelong football fan and my hometown is often referred to as the hometown of football in China," he said.

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"My passion for the game is one motivation for the acquisition. But there is more to it than that.

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"From a business stand-point, the club is a great investment: it is financially sound and has a strong management team.

"I am thrilled to have the opportunity to capitalize on these strengths and continue its growth and focus on league performance."

Lai's purchase of Albion was led by Yunyi Investment, an asset management company established in July 2014 and focuses on growth investment opportunities in sports, leisure and technology businesses.

In addition to the investment in the Baggies, Yunyi are seeking further football and other investment opportunities in the UK and mainland Europe. To date, Yunyi Investment has invested in more than 20 companies, over half of which were or have become listed.

Yunyi Investment is regulated by the Asset Management Association of China and is headquartered in Shanghai.

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