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Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 20 June 2018

Newcastle offered £300m in takeover bid by Dubai financier

The firm led by Amanda Staveley is reported to have made a formal bid for the Premier League club late last week

Businesswoman Amanda Staveley in the stands during the Premier League match at St James' Park, Newcastle. PA
Businesswoman Amanda Staveley in the stands during the Premier League match at St James' Park, Newcastle. PA

Dubai financier Amanda Staveley is understood to have made a formal offer to buy Newcastle United from sportswear magnate Mike Ashley.

According to Sky News, the bid from Staveley’s firm PCP Capital Partners is worth around £300 million.

The deal is not thought to have been agreed yet, nor is it clear whether there are any other bidders. However, sources close to the process said the next logical step would be to grant Staveley a period of exclusivity in which she could negotiate the purchase with Ashley.

Ashley, who also owns Sports Direct, announced his intention to sell the Premier League club last month, after 10 years in charge. At the time, his lawyers said he hoped to finalise the sale by Christmas.

The bid from PCP is believed to have been made late last week and the money is a combination of Staveley’s equity and that of her major investors, which include funds in the Middle East.

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Staveley and her husband – and PCP’s managing partner – Mehrdad Ghodoussi were spotted at St James’ Park in October for a Premier League match between Newcastle and its rivals, Liverpool, which prompted speculation that one of the clubs could be the subject of a bid.

Their initial focus was on Liverpool. However, following more than a year of talks, the American owners of Liverpool FC eventually turned down a deal worth up to £1.5 billion to sell the club to PCP. Sources close to those negotiations told The National that Fenway Sports Group, who also own the Boston Red Sox, believed they could realise a better price in the future.

The sources added that it was in fact at the match in October that the pair turned their attentions to a potential acquisition of Newcastle.

Staveley was also involved in an earlier and ultimately fruitless bid by Dubai investors for Liverpool in 2008. Similarly, it was the actions of the then American owners, Tom Hicks and George Gillett that helped kill the deal at the last minute.

It remains to be seen whether the £300 million bid will be accepted by Ashley.

The tycoon has been clear that he values the club closer to £400 million.

Manager Rafael Benitez is anxious for the club’s future to be settled before the opening of the January transfer window. It is understood that PCP will allocate substantial transfer funds to him to reinforce his squad, should she acquire Newcastle by then.

Should Ashley accept the bid in principle and agree a period of exclusivity, specialist lawyers would subsequently undertake formal due diligence on the club’s finances, following preliminary due diligence which has already been carried out.

This process usually takes around a month, which suggests a final deal could still be completed by Christmas, although a new‑year completion seems more likely.

Ashley, 53, has proved a divisive figure during his tenure, which has seen Newcastle twice relegated from the Premier League and then immediately promoted back.

Newcastle supporters have been hoping that Staveley’s potential arrival as the club’s new owner will bring about a fresh start on Tyneside, given her strong track record in both finance and football.

Newcastle are yet to comment on the reports.