Zong Qinghou, chairman of Hangzhou-based beverage company Wahaha Group, on Thursday denied media reports of his acquisition of Italian soccer club AC Milan, though analysts believe he should consider investing in the sports industry.
AC Milan owner Silvio Berlusconi could sell the club to a group with direct links to the Chinese authorities, reports in Italy said Thursday.
Berlusconi said "the sale of 75 percent of the club to the Chinese has been done," during a private event on Tuesday night, according to Askanews.
Zong said that the company has no intention of investing in the soccer sector.
"We're focusing on our own business and we haven't made any contact with AC Milan," said Zong in his Wei-bo post. "And if I am interested in investing in soccer, I would only choose a Chinese soccer club."
Several Italian sports websites reported that Zong was also eyeing an Italian soccer club, following China's property developer Wanda Group's acquisition of stake in La Liga champions Atletico Madrid.
On Tuesday, the Atletico Madrid said on its website that Wanda Madrid Investment, an affiliate of Wanda, officially became a shareholder of the club after purchasing a 20 percent stake.
Italian sports website Calcio & Finanza reported on Tuesday that it would not be surprising if Zong is interested in AC Milan as his name circulated frequently during the visit of the club's brand director Barbara Berlusconi to several countries in the Persian Gulf and the Far East to look for new investors in the club.
Analysts think that Wahaha should step into the sports industry.
Unlike the Wanda Group that mainly operates in commercial property, Wahaha's beverage business is more related to sports events, Wei Tian, a researcher at the school of management with Fudan University, told Global Times Thursday.
"For example, Wahaha could be a soccer sponsor," helping promote the company's brand, Wei said.
Zhang Jiayuan, an analyst from China Investment Consulting Co, echoed Wei's view. Wang said that the Chinese sports industry has been a rising market since Premier Li Keqiang unveiled a plan to boost the industry in September 2014.
An increasing number of Chinese companies intend to invest in the sports industry, as the market is expected to become much more lucrative in the next few years, said Zhang.