SBD/Issue 222/Franchises

Lerner Moving Ahead With Accumulation Of Aston Villa Shares

Lerner Looking To Take
Aston Villa Private
Browns Owner Randy Lerner has accumulated 56.85% of the shares in Premier League club Aston Villa through agreements reached with the team’s BOD and major shareholder Jack Petchey, “but he is anxious to take that figure to nearer 90% before proceeding” with a takeover of the team, according to Stuart James of the Manchester GUARDIAN. Many of the minority shareholders, “none of whom are believed to own more than a 1% stake,” are Aston Villa fans who are “long disenchanted with [Doug] Ellis’s tenure as chairman and eager to see a change of ownership.” Lerner’s US$118.6M takeover bid has been recommended by the BOD, and his US$1.5B personal fortune “means he is able to purchase Villa with a straight-cash bid” (Manchester GUARDIAN, 8/15). Aston Villa Shareholders Association Chair Jonathan Fear said of Lerner’s purchase, “I can see nothing but positives from it. They’re going to rebuild the club and restore it to what it was.” In London, Phil Shaw reports there will now be a three-week period “during which other groups can outbid Lerner, and Villa would consider any new bids” (London INDEPENDENT, 8/15).

FIRST AND GOAL: In London, Peter Lansley reports Aston Villa’s share price rose 8% yesterday to a record high of US$10.16. Lerner’s bid, which was brokered by former Football League Chair Keith Harris, who also brokered Roman Abramovich’s buyout of Chelsea three years ago, offers US$10.36 per share. Aston Villa finished 16th in the Premiership last season, and only 13,000 season-ticket holders have renewed. Lerner’s “first move” yesterday was to sign manager Martin O’Neill to a five-year, US$18.9M deal. Lansley writes Lerner “will take a hands-on role as he commutes from [N.Y.], but will ask” Operations Dir Steve Stride to continue in his post. Lerner will also add three new members to the BOD, IMG Vice Chair Bob Kain, former U.S. Marine Corps Commandant Charles Krulak and Michael Martin (LONDON TIMES, 8/15).

FOLLOWING GLAZER? Also in London, David Bond writes Lerner’s takeover “on the surface ... looks like a repeat of the Glazer family’s acquisition of Manchester United.” Lerner wants to take the team private, but his advisers said that “that is where the similarities end.” Lerner, unlike the Glazers, “does not distance himself from the [Browns’] supporters.” He watches games “not from the comfortable surroundings of the executive seats but from the press box.” Sources said that he “intends to introduce the same approach once he takes control at Villa and is likely to scrap the directors’ box completely.” Also, unlike the Glazers, Lerner is funding the purchase “with his own money” (London TELEGRAPH, 8/15). Noting Glazer’s purchase of ManU and Patriots Owner Robert Kraft’s interest last year in Liverpool FC, the INDEPENDENT’s Andrew Buncombe writes, “If Glazer was partly lured by the glamour of United and Kraft was interested in Liverpool’s ‘brand,’ can the same be said of Lerner and his ... bid for Villa?” (INDEPENDENT, 8/15).

Return to top
Video Powered By - Castfire CMS Powered By - Sitecore

Report a Bug