Saudi wealth fund leads Newcastle Utd takeover

Saudi Arabia 8The Public Investment Fund (PIF) has led a Saudi consortium’s purchase of English Premier League football club Newcastle United. The consortium has paid US$408.6 million to buy the club’s shares from previous owner Mike Ashley. It has also committed a further $340.5 million to invest in the club and the surrounding area. The PIF will own 80% of the shares under the arrangement. The deal has been some years in the making. A proposal from financier Amanda Staveley involving Saudi-based investors was first floated in 2017 but it was not until the involvement of the PIF in 2019 that a sale looked likely. A bid of $445 million was tabled in January 2020, however the deal fell through due to two issues – a dispute between Saudi Arabia and Qatar-based broadcaster beIN Sports about the rights to show Premier League matches in the Middle East, and the possibility that the Saudi state would effectively control the club, in contravention of the league’s ownership rules. These issues have since been resolved, said Staveley, CEO of PCP Capital Partners, which now owns 10% of the club.  She told Arab News that the “PIF is an autonomous, commercially driven investment fund” and thanked the Premier League and English football authority for breaking the “logjam” that had held up the deal. Newcastle United now joins Paris St Germain (PSG) and Manchester City as European clubs with Mena-based sovereign wealth funds as majority shareholders. A subsidiary of the Qatar Investment Authority is the sole shareholder of PSG while the Abu Dhabi-based City Football Group, controlled by  UAE’s minister of presidential affairs Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed al-Nahyan, owns the Manchester club. Staveley has told the UK media that Newcastle United’s new owners have similar ambitions to both PSG and Man City. ©2021 funds global mena

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