The takeover of £ 340 million from Newcastle United, backed by the Saudi Arabian Public Investment Fund, is nearing completion.
Documents filed with Companies House show that the agreement is progressing. The telegraph understands that a sale price has been agreed with Mike Ashley and the Premier League is verifying it under the test of its owners and administrators. If there is no problem, an official announcement should be made.
Telegraph Sport revealed on March 29 that the takeover had taken another significant step, as the Premier League was officially informed of the intention to conclude the agreement.
The takeover is led by Amanda Staveley, who heads PCP Capital Partners, with the largest support of PIF, which is the world’s largest sovereign wealth fund and is expected to take an 80% stake in Newcastle.
Staveley will acquire 10%, the remaining 10% being bought by the Reuben brothers, who are one of the wealthiest families in Britain with a portfolio worth £ 18 billion. They already own Newcastle Racecourse.
Companies House documents show that Ashley’s St James Holding company lends £ 150 million to PCP. There was confusion as to what it meant and whether Ashley was somehow helping to fund the deal, but The telegraph understands that this is the money owed to him on loans in Newcastle. Staveley does it now.
It certainly doesn’t mean that potential new owners are struggling to finance the takeover and are likely tied to the favorable terms they can agree with Ashley to close the deal. The debt should disappear after the takeover.
The documents also seem to show that a £ 13 million security deposit will be paid by Staveley as part of the transaction. If the deal is reached, it will end Ashley’s sad 13-year ownership of Newcastle fans, and also end one of the longest sagas of takeover.
The deal will also come amid the coronavirus pandemic, but buyers are taking a long-term strategic view.
Staveley, Jamie Reuben, David Reuben’s son and the driving force behind his family’s involvement in the deal, and Yasir Al-Rumayyan, the governor of PIF, are expected to be directors of Newcastle along with two other representatives. Al-Rumayyan is expected to be president of Newcastle. According to the rules of the league, Jamie Reuben, a 33-year-old sports enthusiast, will have to resign as director of the Queen’s Park Rangers before he can also join the board of directors.
Talks have intensified since the start of this year, the consortium naming their plans “Project Zebra” – because of Newcastle’s black and white stripes – but have sometimes been crooked. A complication is that buyers involve three parties, all of whom must reach agreement on the discussions.
Staveley has been trying to buy Newcastle since October 2017 and has had a series of offers rejected by Ashley, but the key – the game changer – is the participation of PIF, which is chaired by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, and the broad support that potentially brings.
The Saudis have been thinking about the best way to get into football for some time and have considered buying other clubs. One will wonder why, with their wealth, the Saudis want to appeal to minority partners, but it is not unusual to see how they structure the transactions.
The fund is at the heart of Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030, a plan led by Prince Mohammed to diversify the economy away from oil and is also the country’s ambitions to develop new tourism and entertainment industries.
An obvious decision by the new owners should be to remove Newcastle staff from “leave” so that they are free to work and not to rely on the government controversial job protection program against coronaviruses. when used by Premier League clubs.
Ashley bought Newcastle for £ 134.4 million in 2007 and the owner of Sports Direct turned out to be an unpopular owner in St James’s Park. Newcastle was twice relegated from the Premier League under Ashley’s reign with the businessman accused of not having invested by his supporters.
Staveley’s ability to buy Newcastle has been questioned despite a series of proposed deals with, at one point, sources close to Ashley issuing a statement saying that “the attempts to reach an agreement have been exhausting, frustrating and a complete waste of time. “