Steve Gibson has no intention of selling Middlesbrough after rejecting a £50million offer for a stake in the club.
Press Association Sport has reported that Gibson, who steered Boro back from the brink of financial ruin in 1986, is not interested ether in a full sale or a partnership, but is open to potential new commercial avenues.
Sources on Teesside have confirmed that the owner and consultant Peter Kenyon met Chinese businessman Chien Lee, whose OGC Nice Investment Group Ltd owns French club Nice, and associates in October.
Subsequently, an offer amounting to around £50million was made for a 50 per cent stake in the club, although it was swiftly rejected.
However, the two parties could yet work together as Gibson attempts to increase Boro's global profile.
The 59-year-old local businessman joined the club's board at the age of just 26 and led it through liquidation in 1986 before reluctantly taking on the role of chairman eight years later.
Gibson built the Riverside Stadium and appointed Bryan Robson as manager, sparking the influx of big names such as Juninho, Fabrizio Ravanelli and Emerson, and later presided over the 2004 Carling Cup success, the club's first major trophy, and the run to the UEFA Cup final two seasons later.
More recently, he has backed current head coach Aitor Karanka in the transfer market to enable him to end Boro's seven-year Premier League exile.
Lee has previously held talks with Hull, but failed to strike a deal with the Allam family, and is also understood to have made overtures to Middlesbrough's neighbours Newcastle and Sunderland.