China's CEFC takes over Czech soccer team Slavia Prague

PRAGUE, Sept 4 (Reuters) - CEFC China Energy Company has bought a majority stake in Slavia Prague, one of the Czech Republic's oldest soccer clubs, its latest in a series of deals by the Chinese company in the central European country. CEFC, which is China's sixth largest private company and counts energy and financial services as core businesses, will buy a 59.97 percent stake in Slavia. Czech businessman Jiri Simane's Fly Sport Investments will control 39.98 percent, CEFC said. The price was not disclosed for what is a rare investment by a foreign group in Czech sport. Slavia played its first competitive match in 1896 and last won the Czech league title in 2009. One of the world's most prolific strikers, Josef Bican, and former Czech President Edvard Benes are among its former players. The purchase comes against the backdrop of an expansion by CEFC in the Czech Republic which has seen a flurry of deals this week alone. On Thursday, CEFC said it had nearly doubled its stake in J&T Finance Group to 9.99 percent and aims to eventually hold up to 30 percent. CEFC has also bought two buildings in Prague's historic centre. "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," CEFC said. Chinese companies have increased their activity in the Czech market this year, supported by a push by the centre-left government to boost ties with Beijing. The deal is not the first time a Chinese company has invested in a European soccer club. Earlier this year, Chinese property conglomerate Dalian Wanda Group Co bought 20 percent of Spanish soccer club Atletico Madrid for 45 million euros. (Reporting by Robert Muller; Editing by Keith Weir)