PRAGUE: Energy and financial services company CEFC China has become the majority shareholder of historic Czech club Slavia Prague.

CEFC has bought a 59.97 per cent stake in the club, with Czech businessman Jiri Simane’s Fly Sport Investments controlling 39.98 per cent.

Shanghai-headquartered CEFC, which was ranked as China’s seventh largest private company by the China Daily newspaper last year with an operating revenue of around $33bn (€29.7bn), has made a series of investments in the Czech Republic in recent times.

A CEFC spokesman said: “CEFC plans to support Czech football on a club level as well as being interested in being a partner of the national squad and youth football.”

Slavia is one of the Czech Republic’s most successful football clubs, having won the country’s top division 16 times. However, its last league win came in 2008-09 and Slavia finished 11th last season.

Slavia said in a statement: “This deal will lead to rapid economic stabilisation at the club and its subsequent development in the long run.”

The Slavia Prague deal marks the latest investment by a Chinese firm in a European football club. In January, Chinese conglomerate Dalian Wanda completed its deal to acquire a 20 per cent stake in Atletico Madrid, with chairman Wang Jianlin stating the €45m investment in the Spanish Liga club sought to bolster the firm’s efforts to build its presence in the entertainment sector.