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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2426

Soccer: Thaksin Agrees To Sell Manchester City To Abu Dhabi Investors

London, 05 September, (Asiantribune.com): Thaksin Shinawatra, the former billionaire prime minister of Thailand deposed in by a military coup two years ago, has agreed to sell his English Premier League soccer club, Manchester City, to the Abu Dhabi United Group. Thaksin Shinawatra  bought the club for $148 million in July last year, but his ownership has been overshadowed by corruption charges he faces in Thailand. Thaksin Shinawatra bought the club for $148 million in July last year, but his ownership has been overshadowed by corruption charges he faces in Thailand.

ADUG is an investment group backed by the Abu Dhabi royal family. According to a memorandum of understanding signed with Thaksin, it will take a 90% stake with Thaksin becoming honorary chairman of the club and retaining a 10% shareholding.

While a final price has yet to be struck, ADUG reportedly values the club's equity and debt at $360 million. In our last annual rankings of the world's most valuable soccer clubs, we pegged Manchester City's value at $191 million.

Thaksin bought the club for $148 million in July last year, but his ownership has been overshadowed by corruption charges he faces in Thailand. His Thai assets, believed to be worth about £800m, have been frozen until the charges against him are resolved. Thaksin now lives in exile in London. In July, we estimated his current fortune to be worth $400 million.

ADUG's Dr Sulaiman Al-Fahim, who made his own fortune from property development, says the investment will turn City into a top-four club within three seasons. Manchester City last won one of the main English trophies in 1976, when it won the League Cup, and has long lived in the shadow of its cross-town rival Manchester United.

The arrival of Abu Dhabi's oil and gas billions will inevitably draw comparisons with Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich's purchase of Chelsea in 2003. Chelsea spent millions on top players and has since twice won the English Premier League and established itself as a top four club.

A sign of the ambition its new owners' money allows the club is that on the the last day of the permitted period for inter-club transfers, Manchester City signed Brazil striker Robinho from Real Madrid for a British record fee of £32.5m.

While eight premier league clubs are now owned by foreign investors, as team ownership has been transformed from a game for multimillionaires to one for billionaires, this is the first time an investment group from the Middle East has been successful at buying an English club.

PCP Capital Partners, a financial advisory company, that brokered the deal, is also working with the Dubai royal family to take control of Liverpool from its U.S. owners George Gillett and Thomas Hicks who bought the club in 2007. - Courtesy : Forbes.com

- Asian Tribune -

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