It seems that March is a good time to be an affiliate company of Chinese internet giant LeEco, former LeTV. Shortly after LeCloud raked in a 1 billion yuan (150 million USD) A round, the company’s emerging online sports media unit LeSports is raising a massive 7 billion yuan (1.07 billion USD) series B, putting LeSports at a valuation of 20.5 billion yuan (3.15 billion USD). The news was indirectly revealed from an announcement made by Zhenzhen-listed Caissa Touristic.
(Yueting Jia, founder, chairman and CEO of LeSports’ parent company Le Holdings, announced April 7 that the company’s sports arm has secured 8 billion RMB (1.2 billion USD) in Series B financing at 21.5 billion RMB valuation.
LeSports’ Series B financing attracted more than 30 investors including HNA Group as well as several celebrity investors, including Sun Honglei, Jia Nailiang and Liu Tao. The company will announce the full investor list in mid-April.)
According to the statement, the Hainan Airlines-backed travel service has founded an 1.2 billion yuan fund with two other Hainan Airline affiliated companies to invest in LeSports. The fund will hold a 5.85% stake in the online sports media.
Local media reported that Chinese tycoon Wang Jianlin, owner of Wanda Group, CMC Holdings, and a state-backed investment institution also participated.
TechNode called LeEco to confirm the details, but the company declined to comment, only saying that LeSports is closing the B round.
LeSports’ valuation surged more than 6 times compared to its 2.8 billion valuation less than one year ago, when the two-year-old spin-off received a 800 million yuan A round in May last year.
The heavy-loaded company has made constant headlines in the past year with a series of major moves. It acquired sports video streaming site Zhangyu.tv with 300 million yuan, purchased rights to air games in the country’s top soccer league for 2.7 billion yuan, and acquired a large package of soccer and other rights in a deal with Singapore-based sports marketing firm MP & Silva.
Caissa Touristic’s announcement also give us peek into LeSports’ financial status. As of the end of 2015, the online sports media recorded an un-audited revenue of 417 million yuan (64.3 million USD) with a net asset of 408 million yuan (62.9 million USD).
Online sports is a new emerging vertical of China’s thriving online video streaming market. After acquiring half of Guangzhou Evergrande football club with 1.2 billion yuan in 2014, Alibaba established a sports affiliate last year to tackle the growing market. Jack Ma-backed Yunfeng Capital also participated in LeSports’ Series A round financing.