Manchester City’s Abu Dhabi-controlled owner has agreed to sell a $500 million stake to U.S. private equity firm Silver Lake, making it the world’s most valuable soccer group with a $4.8 billion price tag.

Tech-focused Silver Lake will buy just over 10% of City Football Group (CFG), which owns reigning English Premier League champions Manchester City and teams in the United States, Australia and China, the companies said on Wednesday.

The investment crowns a rags to riches story for Manchester City, which spent much of the 1990s in the doldrums but broke into the big league of world soccer with the help of Middle Eastern cash.

Europe’s top soccer clubs have drawn in big money from some of the world’s richest investors over the last decade, as the game attracts more fans in lucrative markets such as Asia, the United States and the Middle East.

Chinese investors paid $400 million for a 13% stake in CFG four years ago, valuing the group at $3 billion at that time.Man City’s big domestic rival Manchester United are majority owned by the American Glazer family and are valued at $2.8 billion.

Chelsea are owned by Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich, while America’s Fenway Sports Group controls current European champions Liverpool and French champions Paris Saint Germain are owned by Qatar Sports Investments.

“We and Silver Lake share the strong belief in the opportunities being presented by the convergence of entertainment, sports and technology and the resulting ability for CFG to generate long-term growth and new revenue streams globally,” CFG Chairman Khaldoon Al Mubarak said.

Reuters

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