Record profits, turnover and assets for Wolves owner Fosun
Wolves owner Fosun International saw its turnover surge 24.2 per cent last year to reach a new high of £12.31 billion.
The Chinese conglomerate made a record profit of £1.51bn for 2018 – up 1.9 per cent – as the achievement of Wolves winning the Championship and gaining promotion to the Premier League saw the club earn a mention in the business's final results announcement for the first time.
Chairman Guo Guangchang, who has travelled to Wolverhampton to attend games including the recent victory over Cardiff City, said that the total assets of the group had increased 19.7 per cent on 2017 to a record £71.94bn.
He will be able to see Wolves play in his home country in July when the club plays in a pre-season tournament for a quartet of Premier Leaguer clubs in Shanghai and Nanjing.
Fosun has been keen to bring the team to China as they bid to grow the club brand in the Far East market.
It was the seventh consecutive year of growth in profits for Wolves' owners and Fosun also ploughed £3.2bn into more than 70 new investments over the 12 months, including buying a 17.99 per cent interest in China's leading brewery Tsingtao for £750 million and acquiring French fashion brand Lanvin and healthy food company St Hubert.
Fosun has also developed Wolves-themed travel products through its partnership with Thomas Cook in which it has a 13.8 per cent stake.
But growth has come at a cost as Fosun, one of China's biggest privately owned businesses, also has a bigger pile of debt – now worth £20.9bn – as it borrowed more to build its empire.
From start-up to industry leader
The group has interests around the globe including in pharmaceuticals, health products, leisure, fashion, banking and insurance.
Fosun bought the football club for £30m in July 2016 and has invested tens of millions of pounds into Wolves, who recently beat Manchester United to reach the FA Cup semi-finals at Wembley where they will face Watford.
The club lies seventh in the Premier League with promotion having come a year ahead of Fosun’s initial three-year plan to get into the top English league.
Fosun has risen from a college student start-up with less than £4,350 of initial capital to a Forbes Global Top 500 international industry group.
It also has a 24.5 per cent interest in Canada's Cirque du Soleil theatre group and owns French luxury holidays company Club Med.
Mr Guo said in his letter to shareholders: "Despite the global market volatility and challenging economic environment in 2018, Fosun's good performance is a reflection out business model resilience and strategy."
He said Fosun was confident that organic growth in the various businesses and synergies with investments would enable it to maintain "steady and sound development" and remain resilient to capital market movements.
Fosun's annual dividend to shareholders increased to 3.6p per share. Mr Guo said this was a payout ratio of 20 per cent.
"This will allow us to share the fruits of our business growth with our shareholders," he added.
Fosun's shares stood at 11.82 Hong Kong dollars at the close of trading yesterday – £1.14 in sterling.
Mr Guo said: "Looking ahead, Fosun, as a globalized company rooted in China, will continue to focus on long-term development with 'industry operations and industrial investment' as our growth drivers.
"We remain oriented towards the demands of families worldwide for 'health, happiness and wealth' products and services, with a view to building a global ecosystem that brings happiness to everyone."