The runners and riders as talk of takeovers gets increasingly loud

We consider every name that's been mentioned and how much truth there may be

QPR vs West Ham United Barclays Premier League 01/10/2012 West Ham owner David Gold.

Talks of a possible West Ham takeover were doing the rounds online last month with a suggestion we could see a move from an investor soon ready to test the owners resolve.

Below are some possible suitors for a takeover:

RedBall Acquisition Corp: The former Premier League boss Richard Scudamore has been appointed to the board of a US-listed company that has been set up to invest in European football, with a Premier League club understood to be top of its wish list.

The RedBall Acquisition Corp’s founders had been hoping to raise $500 million in an initial public offering (IPO) but high demand from investors meant underwriters sold another $75 million’s worth of shares, bringing the total to $575 million (almost £440 million).

The special purpose acquisition company (SPAC), which is registered in the Cayman Islands, started trading on the New York Stock Exchange this week, with a current share price just over the initial offer of $10. Also known as blank-check companies, SPACs are publicly-listed shell companies created to buy or merge with another company, with the money raised from an IPO.

Kapital Football Group: American investor Joseph DaGrosa Jr., chairman of Kapital Football Group (KFG), has already started ownership discussions with two Premier League clubs – although confidentiality agreements mean he can’t disclose who – and is poised to advance his plans with ownership platform KFG.

He calls the Premier League the “granddaddy of them all” when it comes to investing in football – “the league that people around the world look to for quality of play and that has the best recognition”. Similar to Manchester City and City Football Group, KFG hopes to build a portfolio of clubs around the world, centered on an anchor club in one of Europe’s top leagues.

‘We’re not overly concerned if a club is losing money, particularly in the Covid-19 environment,’ DaGrosa told CNN Sport. ‘We understand the world has changed but we want to make sure that the club is positioned for on-field success which will ultimately lead to financial success.’

Redbull GmbH: David Gold quashed reports of a potential takeover of the club from Red Bull earlier this year. The global brand has been linked with a buyout of the Hammers in the past but nothing materialised.

Back in 2016, reports claimed David Sullivan and Gold turned down a £650m approach from Red Bull, but this was denied. In 2017, Red Bull’s global head of football Oliver Mintzlaff flatly rejected any suggestion they had made a takeover bid. ‘I should really know about this in my function because I’d be actively involved in it,’ he said at the time. Rumours resurfaced earlier this year online.

UAE investment group: The Daily Mail reported that there has been interest in the club from a high-powered and yet unnamed United Arab Emirates group. The Abu Dhabi United Group for Development and Investment (ADUG) is a United Arab Emirates (UAE) based private equity company owned by Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan who is a member of the Abu Dhabi Royal Family and Minister of Presidential Affairs for the UAE.

The primary interest of the group is its 78% majority ownership of City Football Group which owns Manchester City. Premier League rules would forbid the ownership of a second Premier League club.

Tripp Smith Consortium: West Ham director Tripp Smith, who bought a 10 per cent stake in the club with personal funds three years ago, is putting together a US consortium with a view to buying a controlling interest it was claimed by the Daily Mail.

The consortium rumours started in 2017 and have persisted ever since without any real substance and credibility.

Tripp Smith is not a billionaire which every report claims, he is a multi-millionaire but does not make Forbes rich list, the US version of the rich. 

Smith is also no longer in charge of financial firm Blackstone which manages billions in assets as is often claimed, he stepped down in 2019.

Often linked as a potential investor to the potential consortium was Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen who sadly passed away last year. The Seattle Seahawks owner died aged 65 from complications of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

Todd Boehly: American billionaire Todd Boehly told Bloomberg back in September what he finds so appealing about the Premier League and discusses the chances of his buying one of its football clubs. He told how football is the biggest sport in the world and says the passion that the fans have for the sport and the teams is unparalleled. He goes on to say that the Premier League has no competition in the American Saturday morning TV sports schedule.

The businessman is no stranger to London as he studied at the London School of Economics. Chelsea and Spurs were both linked with potential takeovers by the American last summer with a $3billion bid for Chelsea turned down by their Russian owner.

Boehly is the chairman, chief executive officer and controlling member of Eldridge Industries, which is a private investment firm and the former president of Guggenheim Partners. He owns 20% of the LA Dodgers and part-owner of the LA sparks and is said to have a net worth of £4.72 billion. 

Boehly spent his early career at Credit Suisse First Boston which is where West Ham 10% shareholder Tripp Smith also worked prior to founding GSO Capital Partners.

Comolli led consortium: A report suggested ex-Liverpool technical director and former Spurs director of football Damien Comolli was looking to buy the Hammers. He is reportedly heading an American consortium looking to buy a Premier League club. 

The Frenchman was an influential figure in English football between 1996 and 2012 as he worked for Arsenal, Spurs and then Liverpool in various recruitment and strategic roles. But his last direct involvement with any Premier League club was at Liverpool. That spell ended after just two years.

Saudi Arabia consortium: The Saudi consortium headed up by mega-rich Mohammad Bin Salman has been linked with a potential takeover of West Ham in the past (Football Insider).

Amanda Staveley’s consortium is having trouble sealing a deal for Newcastle United which is backed the Saudi Arabian crown sovereign wealth fund, in conjunction with property magnates Simon and David Reuben

If they can’t conclude a deal for Newcastle it would be surprising that they could turn their attention to West Ham.

Qatar Investment Fund: A report in the Daily Telegraph in 2019 claimed that the Qatari Royal family are looking at the possibility of buying an English club has increased speculation that West Ham could be a target. Qatar Sports Investments which owns PSG is chaired by Nasser Al-Khelaifi, who is also PSG’s president. The report claimed QSI was exploring whether it makes sense to buy a club in England to expand its portfolio to challenge in the Premier League.

Uefa rules forbid two clubs in a European club competition, such as the Champions League or Europa League, being directly or indirectly controlled by the same entity however this would not be a problem if the Qataris used a different vehicle other than QSI. In 2016 a Daily Mail story suggested that West Ham are a target of a Qatari takeover however rumours were at that time denied.

CAA – Creative Artists Agency: Perhaps one of the most random suggestions is that CAA have their eyes on West Ham takeover. It is an American talent and sports agency based in Los Angeles, California in the US and is regarded as the most dominant and influential company in the talent agency business and manages numerous clients.

They are rumoured to want to move into the sports team business and have the ambition to own a Premier League club. 

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