Taiwan Steel Group as 6th CPBL Team
On February 25, the CPBL commissioner announced that Taiwan Steel Group (TSG) would become the sixth team in the CPBL. TSG is expected to submit their letter of intent on March 2 and the expansion team proposal in April.
“The new expansion team still need the final approval from the board, but we have already spoken with all the teams in private, and the responses are very positive. All the teams want to have a sixth team in the league,” said the CPBL commissioner Tsai Chi-Chang.
The Chairman of TSG revealed that the new CPBL expansion team is going to operate out of Kaohsiung City, using Chengqing Lake Stadium as their home stadium.
“Last week, I met with TSG’s chairman and CPBL commissioner to discuss the matter of expansion team and how the city can help,” said Kaohsiung City Mayor Chen Chi-Mai. “Apart from free shuttle buses, a new MRT line will pass the Chengqing Lake Stadium in the future.”
As per the CPBL expansion regulations, once TSG submits their expansion team proposal in April and receives approval from the CPBL board in May, then TSG can participate in the 2022 mid-season draft in July.
Japan’s SoftBank Group as Shareholder?
A few hours after the expansion team announcement, TSNA came out with the exclusive that apart from Taiwan Steel Group, a yet to be named Japanese conglomerate is highly likely to enter a joint venture with TSG to run the new CPBL expansion team.
The mysterious Japanese company is said to be on a similar scale in terms of corporate size as Japan’s Rakuten Group. With that hint, many suspected that Japan’s SoftBank Group might be the yet to be named Japanese shareholder.
It is not a surprise people would think it is the SoftBank Group. Last year, Mirror Media reported that Japan’s SoftBank Group, along with Taiwan’s CTBC Financial, are considering entering a joint venture to acquire the operational rights of the Taipei Dome. The deal is reportedly worth 1.12 billion USD for a 60% stake in the Taipei Dome.
There is another factor why SoftBank might want to get into the Taiwan market. The SoftBank Group, which owns LINE, a popular instant messaging APP, launched a digital banking service in Taiwan last year.
Based on the December 2021 data from Financial Supervisory Commission, LINE Bank is currently the leading digital banking provider in Taiwan with 733,000 users.
Rakuten Bank, a direct competitor of LINE Bank and operates the Rakuten Monkeys in the CPBL, only has 70,000 users.
It would be fascinating to see the digital banking service dynamics if SoftBank is indeed the mystery shareholder. It is worth noting Fubon (30%) and CTBC (5%) both have a significant stake in LINE Bank, and both also have a team in the CPBL.