Former tycoon dies at 44 in prison

Updated: 2015-12-07 07:22


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Former tycoon dies at 44 in prison

Xu Ming, former chairman of Dalian Shide Group and Dalian Shide Football Club. CHINA DAILY

Xu Ming, former chairman of Dalian Shide Group and Dalian Shide Football Club, died at a prison in Hubei province on Friday, according to media reports.

Family members took his ashes home on Sunday from Wuhan.

Xu was detained in March 2012 on suspicion of economic crimes. He appeared in court as a witness in the trial of Bo Xilai, former Party chief of Chongqing, in August 2013. Bo was sentenced to life in prison for bribery, embezzlement and abuse of power.

Xu's trial and sentencing were not made public. He was expected to be set free in September 2016, according to news reports.

His death was attributed to disease.

Lin Lefeng, former general manager of Dalian Shide FC, told China Daily that he was shocked to hear of Xu's death.

"I've heard it was because of acute myocardial infarction," Lin said, referring to a heart attack. "But we still can't confirm it."

Xu founded Dalian Shide Group in 1992 when he was 21. In 2000, the group acquired the Dalian Wanda Football Club from soccer tycoon Wang Jianlin and renamed it Dalian Shide FC.

For three consecutive years, the team won the championship of China's top-level soccer league. In 2003, the club reached the final four in the AFC Champions League.

In 2005, it won championship honors both in the Chinese Football Association Super League and the China FA Cup matches. That year, Xu ranked eighth on Forbes' list of wealth on the Chinese mainland, with more than $1 billion.

However, as investment diminished, the club's performance worsened. Dalian-based Aerbin Group took over the club at the end of 2012.