Jun 16, 2022 05:52 AM

Viva China Close to Controlling British Shoemaker Clarks

What’s new: Viva China Holdings, a Chinese sports talent agency founded by gymnast-entrepreneur Li Ning, moved a step closer to taking control of British shoe brand Clarks.

Hong Kong-traded Viva China, which owns Li’s namesake sports apparel brand, said Wednesday that shareholders approved the plan to acquire Clarks. The deal will help Viva China to further expand its global business presence, the company said.

In late May, Viva China said it would set up a joint venture with Hong Kong-based private equity fund LionRock Capital, in which Viva China holds a 51% stake. The venture would acquire 51% of Clarks. The deal was pending approvals from Viva China’s shareholders and regulators.

Background: Viva China showed interest in buying Clarks back in August 2020 when the British company approached LionRock Capital for a potential investment. Li is the nonexecutive chairman of LionRock.

In November 2020, LionRock paid 100 million British pounds ($121 million) for 51% of Clarks. In March 2021, Viva China said it signed an agreement with LionRock to acquire part of the Clarks stake for 51 million British pounds, pending shareholder approval.

Viva China launched a raft of acquisitions of international brands to expand its business portfolio, including Hong Kong apparel brand Bossini and Italy’s Amedeo Testoni.

Founded in 1825, England-based Clarks is one of Britain’s oldest shoe brands. But its business has been sliding in recent years amid a broader retail industry slowdown and the Covid-19 pandemic.

Quick Takes are condensed versions of China-related stories for fast news you can use.

Contact reporter Han Wei ( and editor Bob Simison (

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