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Manchester City owner scores $4.8 billion price tag with stake sale

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Manchester City owner scores $4.8 billion price tag with stake sale

By Sudip Kar-Gupta, Paul Sandle

 

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FILE PHOTO: Soccer Football - Premier League - Brighton & Hove Albion v Manchester City - The American Express Community Stadium, Brighton, Britain - May 12, 2019 Manchester City players pose with the trophy as they celebrate winning the Premier League Action Images via Reuters/John Sibley

 

PARIS/LONDON (Reuters) - Manchester City’s Abu Dhabi-controlled owner has agreed to sell a $500 million stake to U.S. private equity firm Silver Lake, making it the world’s most valuable soccer group with a $4.8 billion price tag.

 

Silver Lake will buy just over 10% of City Football Group (CFG), which owns reigning English Premier League champions Manchester City and teams in the United States, Australia and China, the companies said on Wednesday.

 

The investment crowns a rags to riches story for Manchester City over several decades which spent much of the 1990s in the doldrums but then broke into the big league of world soccer with the help of Middle Eastern cash.

 

Europe’s top soccer clubs have drawn in big money from some of the world’s richest investors over the last decade, as the game attracts more and more fans in lucrative markets such as Asia, the United States and the Middle East.

 

Man City’s big domestic rival Manchester United (MANU.N) are owned by the American Glazer family, while Chelsea are owned by Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich and America’s Fenway Sports Group controls current European champions Liverpool.

 

French champions Paris Saint Germain are owned by Qatar Sports Investments.

 

“Silver Lake is a global leader in technology investing, and we are delighted by both the validation that their investment in CFG represents, and the opportunities for further growth that their partnership brings,” CFG Chairman Khaldoon Al Mubarak said in a statement.

 

CFG, which also owns or part owns New York City FC, Melbourne City FC, Yokohama F. Marinos in Japan, Club Atletico Torque in Uruguay, Girona FC in Spain and Sichuan Jiuniu FC in China, said none of its existing shareholders were selling equity stakes as part of the Silver Lake deal.

 

It added that Abu Dhabi United Group, the investment vehicle owned by Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan, would remain the majority CFG shareholder with a stake of around 77%.

RAGS TO RICHES

 

Although City were champions of England in 1968, the club were heavily overshadowed by local rivals Manchester United and even suffered the embarrassment of falling into the third tier of English football in 1998.

 

Fast forward two decades and it is in the money.

 

Man City, whose playing squad includes England’s Raheem Sterling, Belgium’s Kevin De Bruyne and Argentina’s Sergio Aguero, this month reported record high 2018-19 revenue of 535.2 million pounds ($687 million) in a fifth consecutive year of profitability.

 

Silver Lake Managing Director Egon Durban, who will join the board of CFG, said it would “help drive the next phase of CFG’s growth in the fast-growing premium sports and entertainment content market”.

 

Silver Lake, based in Menlo Park, California, helped Michael Dell take the PC maker he founded private in 2013, and has invested in Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba, U.S. chip maker Broadcom and global sports talent agency IMG.

 

Manchester City lagged in much of the 1990s, often out of England’s top-flight league and far behind Manchester United, which remains England’s record league title holders with 20 championship titles.

 

However, the influx of Middle Eastern cash has since led to a revival in Man City’s fortunes.

 

The team, managed by former Barcelona man Pep Guardiola, won an unprecedented domestic treble last season - the Premier League title, the FA Cup and the League Cup.

 

Unlike Manchester United and Liverpool, however, Man City is yet to win Europe’s most prestigious title, the Champions League.

 

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-- © Copyright Reuters 2019-11-27

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Just the kind of story that will make any genuine fan of football (possibly even Man C supporters) want to puke violently.

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This valuation means the club can be bought by only the very richest. Forget the Qataris, sworn enemies of the current owners. How about the Saudis? Close allies (brothers in arms in Yemen) and Saudi Arabia are looking to attract Western tourists to the country, not least through sport. Golf and boxing so far to bring tourists in. Only this week a Saudi team has won Asia's Champions League. Star man  Bafetemi Gomis, ex Swansea. A ready made, off the peg Premiership team would be nice. Half time entertainment could be interesting. See the Kite Runner.

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2 hours ago, champers said:

Saudi Arabia are looking to attract Western tourists to the country, not least through sport. Golf and boxing so far to bring tourists in. Only this week a Saudi team has won Asia's Champions League. 

Right opposite where i live they had a massive car show this week. Richard "Gas Monkey" Rawlings. Kauffman. west coast customs etc they were all there. WWE the other week. Really stepping it up over here at the mo

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