Guochuan Lai
Guochuan Lai has bought an 88% stake in Premier League club West BromWBA

Long-standing West Brom chairman Jeremy Peace has sold his 88% stake in the club to Chinese entrepreneur Guochuan Lai for a reported sum between £150m and £200m ($130m-£261m).

The businessman — who made his fortune at the helm of landscaping company Palm — said he decided to become majority shareholder of the Baggies because of its "rich history, strong team and room for growth".

He becomes the third Chinese owner of an English club in the Midlands after Aston Villa and Wolverhampton Wanderers were taken over by Dr Tony Xia and Shanghai-based investment company Fosun respectively.

After the deal was announced, Lai enthused: "I am excited and privileged to have the chance to become the new owner of this great Club. We have a strong squad, loyal fans and a unique culture. My immediate priorities will be to maintain the Club's stable structure, respecting its well-run nature and its heritage. I have no intention of changing the club's ethos."

Born in Meizhou, in Guangdong province, Lai, who is 42, made a fortune from landscaping and construction company Palm Eco-Town Development Company Limited (Palm), which was formed in 1984.

The business, which has a workforce in excess of 1,000 employees, designs and builds landscape gardens for municipal projects and residential communities like villas as well as hotels including holiday resorts. It is listed on the Shenzhen Stock Exchange and worth £1.8bn ($2.35bn). Shares in the company dipped on Friday (5 August) to 11.29CNY (£1.30).

Lai retired from the company in 2014 to set up a private investment fund but remains chairman of four Palm subsidiaries. He also owns Belt Collins, the landscaping company behind the exclusive W Hotel in Hong Kong.

Sheraton Grande Laguna Phuket,
Landscaping at the Sheraton Grande Laguna in Phuket, Thailand, was done by one of Lai's companies

West Brom stated his cash reserves was "in excess of the amount required for the investment".

To purchase the stake, Lai established Yunyi Guokai (Shanghai) Sports Development Limited, which has three investment companies as its shareholders; Yunyiye, Yunjin and Yuntai. The company was advised by Vermilion Partners, King & Wood Mallesons, PriceWaterhouseCoopers and FTI Consulting during the acquisition.