SBD/Issue 21/Franchises

Ashley Talking To Seven Interested Parties About Newcastle Sale

Newcastle Owner Reportedly 
In Talks With Seven Interested Buyers
Investment bank Seymour Price CEO Keith Harris, whose company has been charged with brokering a sale of English Premier League (EPL) club Newcastle United, said that Newcastle Owner Mike Ashley is "speaking to seven parties interested in purchasing Newcastle and he has not lowered his asking price," according to Alex Livie of SETANTASPORTS.com. Ashley has "set no deadline for a sale," but Harris "feels progress is likely to be made over the course of the next month." Livie notes it "has been suggested Ashley has been forced to drop his asking price" from US$792.1M, but Harris said that that is a "figure which has been pulled from thin air." Harris: "Nobody that I know knows where the ... figure ever came from" (SETANTASPORTS.com, 10/14). Harris said that Ashley "will sell Newcastle United to those he deems the best qualified to take care of the club's long term future." Harris said Ashley "wants to make it clear that although he wants a maximum price, he want[s] to make sure it goes into hands of people who can nurture it for the future" (London TELEGRAPH, 10/14).

HAM IT UP: In Manchester, Matt Scott reports EPL club West Ham United yesterday was the "subject of a takeover approach by Dubai's sovereign-wealth fund Zabeel Investments," the company controlled by Sheikh Hamdan Al Maktoum that last Friday declared its interest in English Coca-Cola Championship League club Charlton Athletic "in the form of an 'indicative bid.'" But the approach to West Ham was "far more discreetly conducted" than the Charlton bid. West Ham sources confirmed that "contact was made but insist there are 'no talks' after" Owner Björgólfur Guðmundsson "rejected the offer." But Scott notes it is "believed that talks are continuing with Guðmundsson on a personal level" (Manchester GUARDIAN, 10/14).

HANGING AROUND: EPL club Arsenal co-Owner Alisher Usmanov, who owns the largest stake in the club at 24.9%, last night said that he has "no intention of selling his stake in Arsenal despite the global economic crisis." Usmanov said that it "was 'inconceivable' that he would sell" his stake, and he "declared he wanted to increase his stake to 25% -- an 'objective' that he said he announced last year" (Manchester GUARDIAN, 10/14).

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