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Question marks over would be Reading purchasers


The Chinese Dai family that are behind a proposed takeover of Reading were previously subject to a Premier League investigation that raised 'red flags' about their commercial background.   This happened when they made an earlier bid for Hull City.

Their most high profile investment is based on transforming unused air raid shleters in China into shopping malls.   They have to be vacated if war ever breaks out.   This raises the bizarre spectacle of people sheltering amid displays of luxury western goods.

The family's main listed vehicle, Renhe Commercial Holdings, has a record of financial difficulties and related third party transactions that led Standard & Poor last year to describe the company's financial policy as 'negative' and its management and governance as 'weak'.   It warned that 'Renhe would have difficulty in borrowing from banks, or at the least face strict terms and conditions.'

The Premier League's investigation of the proposed Hull City takeover found that the acquisition involved offshore companies that made it difficult to understand the family's sources of funding, or whether they had sufficient income to maintain a large football club.

The family has satisfied the English Football League that it is structuring the Reading deal in a different manner, allowing the EFL to provisionally approve the takeover subject to the agreement of a number of specific conditions that have not been made public.

After a building spree that left China with too much retail space, Renhe's finances were squeezed.  In late 2015, it breached the covenants on a $300m syndicated loan.     It put its malls up for sale but was unable to find a buyer, partly because it did not have full formal rights to transfer the real estate, which ultimately is under military control.

Mr Dai bought the malls from his own company.   Renhe's only business now is operating eight agricultural wholesale markets.

If Reading secure promotion, they could be denied entry if the Premier League decides the owners have not been transparent about their financial arrangements.   The structure of the Reading deal has not been shared with the Premier League.