rastarA Chinese model car maker has agreed to buy a stake in debt-laden La Liga side Espanyol and will end up owning more than 80 percent of the Barcelona club, the company said Tuesday.

Rastar Group struck a deal with two of the club’s key shareholders to acquire between 45.1 and 56 percent of Espanyol at 78 euros ($85.90) per share, it said in a statement.

Rastar will inject up to 45 million euros into Espanyol after the acquisition, taking the total cost to around 64 million euros, it added.

Rastar board secretary executive Yang Nong told AFP Tuesday that the cash injection will take the form of a new share issue by Espanyol, and the deal will ultimately leave the company owning “more than 80 percent” of the club.

According to Spanish newspaper El Pais, most of the investment is set to help clear debts of the financially stricken club, which is perennially overshadowed by city rivals and European champions FC Barcelona.

It the latest example of the rising influence of the Asian market in Spanish football.

Earlier this year China’s Wanda Group bought a 20 percent stake in 2014 La Liga champions Atletico Madrid.

Singaporean businessman Peter Lim is the major shareholder in Valencia.

Rastar is based in Shantou in China’s southern province of Guangdong, and its statement was made to the Shenzhen stock exchange, where it is listed.

As well as model cars, the firm also makes car seats and toys, and is an Internet game developer.

The two Espanyol shareholders that signed the agreement with Rastar, Daniel Sanchez Llibre and his company Tevimore, directly own only a small part of the club but have promised to secure the shares due from other holders, Yang said.

Under the deal, Rastar will buy a further five percent of the club within four years at the same terms.

Llibre is “the real controller of the club” and his influence was “big enough to actually control more than half of the shares”, Yang added.

“We are confident as he thinks there is no problem,” he said. – Agence France-Presse

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