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Chinese owner completes Southampton takeover - Liebherr

Gao Jisheng, chairman and founder of Lander Sports, attends an annual meeting of Zhejiang Entrepreneurs Association in Hangzhou, Zhejiang province, China January 25, 2017. Picture taken January 25, 2017. REUTERS/Stringer/Files
Gao Jisheng, chairman and founder of Lander Sports, attends an annual meeting of Zhejiang Entrepreneurs Association in Hangzhou, Zhejiang province, China January 25, 2017. Picture taken January 25, 2017. REUTERS/Stringer/Files

LONDON (Reuters) - Chinese businessman Jisheng Gao has completed a takeover of Southampton, club owner Katharina Liebherr said in a letter to fans on Monday.

"Following extensive and fruitful work, we are entering into a partnership with the Gao family and I am excited about what we will achieve together," Liebherr said.

Although no details of the deal were released, local media reported that Gao had purchased an 80 per cent stake for around 210 million pounds ($273 million).

Liebherr said she had built up a close relationship with Gao's daughter Nelly Gao, who local media said would join the board.

The Premier League approved the takeover by Gao's company in June, and the deal takes to 28 the number of European clubs now under Chinese ownership.

Seven of those are British: West Bromwich Albion, Birmingham City, Aston Villa, Wolves, Reading and Northampton are the others, with Manchester City also 13 per cent owned by Chinese.

($1 = 0.7712 pounds)

(Reporting by Neil Robinson; Editing by Gareth Jones)

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