London-based global investment firm Centricus confirmed on Monday they have joined the race to buy Chelsea.
Preferred bidders to succeed Roman Abramovich as the club’s owner are expected to be identified in the coming days after Friday’s deadline for offers passed with around 20-30 interested parties.
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Centricus co-founder Nizar Al-Bassam and CEO Garth Ritchie are season-ticket holders at Stamford Bridge, as are Jonathan Lourie of Cheyne Capital and Talis Capital’s Bob Finch, who have both joined forces to strengthen the bid.
In a statement shown to ESPN, Centricus claims their offer includes funding for the completion of the transaction in addition to working capital, funds required to “maintain an elite global brand, investment in grassroots” and “strategic real estate investment.”
Outlining what it describes as plans for a “long-term investment”, the statement continues: “The intention is to maintain and support existing management on both the business and sporting operations of the CFC Group.
“We intend to maintain the existing strategy direction. Clearly, the CFC Group has been operating in challenging conditions and we appreciate the importance for the CFC Group, the fans and other key stakeholders of ensuring a smooth and stable ownership transition.
During this transition period and thereafter, we will ensure that we have frequent and open dialogue with all key stakeholders which underpins our long-term commitment to the CFC Group and its continued future success.
“If our offer is successful, Centricus would be focused on ensuring that the CFC Group continues to achieve sporting excellence, high level of community support, transparent governance, financial sustainability, fan engagement and exemplary custodianship.”
Centricus, which claims to oversee $38 billion of assets across financial services, technology, infrastructure and consumer, media, entertainment and sports, joins several other bidders to have publicly declared their interest including a consortium led by Los Angeles Dodgers and LA Lakers part-owner Todd Boehly.
The Ricketts family, owners of the Chicago Cubs, have also tabled on offer while British businessman Sir Martin Broughton’s consortium comprises financing from backers on four different continents.
British property tycoon Nick Candy is also leading a bid while London investment firm Aethel Partners submitted an offer in excess of £2bn on Thursday. New York Jets owner Woody Johnson has not confirmed an offer but is widely expected to have made an offer.
Abramovich valued the club at £3bn prior to being hit with sanctions by the U.K government over his alleged ties to Russia president Vladimir Putin. Chelsea are operating with a special licence allowing them to pay staff and fulfil fixtures but the club’s commercial activity has been severely hampered given their status as a partially frozen asset of Abramovich.
Speaking to the Times, Al-Bassam said: “There’s a clock ticking because the club is bleeding money at a faster rate than it should be while there’s uncertainty there.
“We’ve tried to focus on a proposal which align the ownership of the club with long-term investors with a deep history with the club. If you look at the proposal we put forward, keeping it an entirely British finance proposal is core to that.”