Aston Villa’s Chinese owner: Saint or Sinner?

Tony Xia has been hailed in some quarters as Aston Villa’s knight in shining armor, but how much is really known about the Chinese businessman?

Reading the Meet our new Owner introductory page on Aston Villa’s official website, new chairman Tony Xia ticks all the right boxes: young, presentable, well-educated, former player, long-time Villa fan and – as an employer of 35,000 people in 75 countries – presumably also fantastically rich.

But the truth, it seems, is not quite that simple.The first red flag is the fact that in a seven-paragraph article, Tony himself doesn’t actually appear until the fifth paragraph, begging the question who is the real owner – him or the Recon Group? Is he the king of the empire, or is there someone lurking behind the throne?

So what of this empire? Recon owns controlling interests in five publicly-listed companies, of which the largest two are from the Chinese mainland (and the other three listed in Hong Kong). The jewel in the crown is the Shanghai-listed Lotus Health Group, China’s largest manufacturer of the food additive MSG, widely used throughout the country, but increasingly being shunned by discerning Chinese diners.

Next up comes Shenzhen-listed Tianxia Zhihui, which started out as a company that made shampoos and soaps – rebranded as Softto in 2004 – but was then renamed and restructured last year into an entity involved in the smart city business.

Author: AsiaSportsBusiness

Website: Tanner Simkins @TannerSimkins