The FC Thun Bernese Oberland and the China-based Pacific Media Group (PMG) are entering into a strategic cooperation. Core elements of the partnership are the data-based search for players, the touristic marketing of the Bernese Oberland and the capital strengthening of FC Thun. The independence of the football club remains.
For years, FC Thun Bernese Oberland has been looking for a strong partner willing to strengthen the club’s equity base, without taking over control of the club. Now we have succeeded with a tremendous breakthrough through this partnership. With the Pacific Media Group (PMG), based in Hong Kong, Beijing and Shenzhen, FC Thun has found a partner who not only seeks long-term cooperation, but also leaves the personality and culture of the FC Thun Bernese Oberland intact. The core business of PMG is the financing and distribution of digital content (films, TV productions, sports and games) within the Asian market. For some years, PMG has also achieved great success with the data-based player analysis and player identification. PMG transferred this successful and proven data model originally practiced in baseball and basketball in the U.S. to football and built up a worldwide player statistics database in recent years.
As part of the new field of activity, PMG and a consortium took over the majority of the English second division club Barnsley F.C. and was until recently also an owner of the French first division OGC Nice. At OGC Nice, during PMG’s investment, the club qualified for the UEFA Champions League for the first time in its history and built a new academy and training center. During PMG’s first full year of ownership of Barnsley, the club was promoted to the English Championship. Hence, PMG is well acquainted with the European football market. Participating with PMG will be Chien Lee, who also invested in OGC Nice and Barnsley and The Seelig Group, financier of films such as Avatar, Deadpool and The Martian.
The cornerstones of the partnership
The cooperation between Pacific Media Group and the FC Thun Bernese Oberland is characterized by three core themes.
The FC Thun Bernese Oberland gains access to player data and an expanded European network for potential player transfers. A chance for the FC Thun Bernese Oberland, Director of Sports Andres Gerber finds. "We see the new possibilities as an ideal complement to our previous strategy," says Gerber. "The data gives us additional opportunities and a wider selection of players. Accordingly, the prospects of success in this area are increasing. »
PMG and FC Thun Bernese Oberland expect the partnership to be an optimal position for the marketing of the Bernese Oberland in the Asian region. Associated with this are extended sponsoring options for FC Thun Bernese Oberland.
The PMG will invest up to CHF 3 million on capital in favor of FC Thun Bernese Oberland. "An ideal size," says Markus Lüthi, President of FC Thun Bernese Oberland. "Despite this investment, the FC Thun Bernese Oberland will remain cost-conscious and strong in its core values." It would continue to still rely on “every franc” from the region.
The participation rate of PMG in the FC Thun Bernese Oberland is capped at 25 percent.
«The FC Thun Bernese Oberland keeps its soul»
Particularly with a view to the recent past in Swiss football, the partnership with a foreign investor must be critically examined. Markus Lüthi is aware of this. "It has always been our stated goal to financially strengthen FC Thun Bernese Oberland without selling our soul," says Lüthi. "The strategic cooperation with PMG also includes the investment in our share capital, albeit in the area of a minority stake." It is important that the majority of shares continue to be spread among many different shareholders and that the FC Thun Bernese Oberland remains strongly connected to our region. "That PMG agrees with this is extraordinary," says Lüthi. Vice-President Markus Peter, who together with Lüthi had intensive discussions with PMG over the past six months, is impressed by the professionalism of the new partner. "We realized quickly throughout all our good, fruitful and constructive discussions that we are collaborating with serious and honest people who are a great fit for our FC Thun Bernese Oberland," says Peter. Paul Conway from PMG added “We are very excited to invest in FC Thun and want to thank Markus Lüthi and Markus Peter for the opportunity. We were attracted to FC Thun due to the club’s strong management, professionalism, passionate supporters and being located in one of the most beautiful locations in the world.”
The contracts have already been signed and the first financial contribution from PMG has been made. The new partnership between FC Thun Bernese Oberland and the Pacific Media Group will be officially launched on 12 December 2019 with a kick-off event on the Jungfrau by invitation of “Top of Europe”.
The two parties will continue to exchange ideas regularly in order to optimize and further strengthen the core areas.
Markus Lüthi, President FC Thun Bernese Oberland, +41 79 360 80 87