International Finance

Saudi Royal involved in bid for troubled Everton FC: All you need to know

Everton launched the career of England international Wayne Rooney before his 13-year run with Manchester United

Troubled English Premier League football team Everton is reportedly being bid for 400 million pound (USD 509 million) by an unidentified member of the Saudi royal family.

The club is the subject of multiple bids after 777 Partners and British-Iranian majority owner Farhad Moshiri’s acquisition agreement fell through recently. London-based lawyer and businessman Vatche Monoukian is also a bidder.

According to a BBC report, local businessmen Andy Bell and George Downing, along with MSP Sports Capital, which has lent the club 158 million pound, are among the other possible buyers.

Everton launched the career of England international Wayne Rooney before his 13-year run with Manchester United.

However, the English football club has faced financial challenges. Premiership upheld a six-point docking against the club in February 2024 for profitability and sustainability rules (PSR) violations. United Kingdom Companies House records show a loss of 89 million pound for the year ended June 2023.

If the Saudi royal-backed bid is successful, it will come after other well-known Gulf-backed English Premiership transactions, such as the Public Investment Fund (PIF) of Saudi Arabia’s acquisition of the majority stake in Newcastle United in 2021 and the 2008 buyout of Manchester City by its Abu Dhabi-based owners.

Sheikh Jassim bin Hamad Al Thani of Qatar reportedly withdrew from consideration to purchase Manchester United following rumours that the Glazer family, who own a controlling stake, demanded USD 6 billion.

Meanwhile, talking about Farhad Moshiri’s efforts to take over the club, things have taken a turn as the British-Iranian majority owner has opened talks with A-Cap, a financial group with strong ties to 777 Partners. According to The Telegraph, A-Cap has emerged as a “serious contender to buy Everton” and is trying to convince Farhad Moshiri they can take control of the club.

Led by New York-based CEO Kenneth King, A-Cap had seen their initial interest dismissed due to their connections with 777. The investment firm is reportedly under pressure from the United States authorities to distance themselves from 777, which led to King’s initial offer being rejected.

Talking about 777 Partners, which was a former minority shareholder in Flair Airlines and majority shareholder in the now-insolvent scheduled carrier Bonza, is now facing a spate of lawsuits, including the ones filed by a former soccer club president and a company that owns a stadium, both affiliated with Belgian football team Standard Liege.

The club, along with its stadium, was sold to 777 Partners in 2022. The money was to be paid in tranches, and 777 made the first payment but defaulted on the second tranche of 3.5 million euro (USD 3.75 million), due in April 2024, and a separate payment for the same amount due to the former club president Bruno Venanzi holding stakes.

The lawsuits are asking for the seizure of 777’s assets in Belgium, including the shares Venanzi gave up in 2022. When 777 Partners bought in, it promised to pump capital into the debt-ridden club. Instead, Standard was hit with transfer bans after the club failed to pay transfer fees, bonuses, VAT, and social insurance contributions.

However, A-Cap has re-entered the picture despite the earlier setback, and Farhad Moshiri is now reportedly in active discussions with the venture over a potential Everton takeover.

“Moshiri is hesitant to rush into a decision and wants to assess all his options, but he needs to settle on a prospective buyer and agree broad terms before next season start. Several interested parties have signalled a willingness to fund Everton’s operational costs immediately as they seek a period of exclusivity to discuss takeover terms with Moshiri,” The Telegraph reported.

“Two lifelong Everton fans, Andy Bell and George Downing, are also serious contenders to buy the club. The pair are considered the fans’ favourites given their connection to the club, and have told Moshiri that they are the best option for Everton,” it added further.

A consortium of Middle East and United States investors led by London-based Armenian investor Vatche Manoukian, on the other hand, has tabled a 400 million pound all-equity proposal. MSP Sports Capital has a separate proposal to take control via equity and debt.

Roma owner Dan Friedkin, meanwhile, is monitoring the situation, while Crystal Palace part-owner John Textor has walked away from negotiations.

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