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Latest from The Wall Street Journal explains how Saudi talks to buy Newcastle United were set in motion

2 years ago

It is 17 days ago (25 January 2020) when the (latest) new Newcastle United takeover story broke.

It came from an unconventional source, with The Wall Street Journal breaking the news.

The respected business newspaper said that talks to buy Newcastle United were ongoing, with a deal set to be funded by money from Saudi Arabia, if successful.

Amongt the usual nonsense and fantasy from most of the UK media, this was then followed up four days ago (7 February 2020) with an update from another US based financial media, this time a Bloomberg report:

‘Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund is working with a socialite friend of Kim Kardashian West to secure its latest deal.

Carla DiBello, an entrepreneur who’s close to the reality television star, is advising on the Public Investment Fund’s proposed acquisition of Premier League soccer team Newcastle United, people with knowledge of the matter said.

DiBello is working on the deal alongside British financier Amanda Staveley, the people said, asking not to be identified because the information is private. She may also keep an ongoing advisory role if the Newcastle United acquisition goes through, one of the people said.

A consortium backed by PIF is in talks to buy Newcastle United from British billionaire Mike Ashley for about 340 million pounds ($440 million), people with knowledge of the matter have said. Ashley has been struggling to offload the team in recent years, and it’s unclear whether he will accept the offer.

PIF, led by Governor Yasir Al-Rumayyan, is a key part of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s efforts to diversify the Saudi economy away from its dependence on oil. It manages about $320 billion of assets, according to the Sovereign Wealth Fund Institute.’

Like all Newcastle fans I am sceptical as to any Newcastle United takeover happening. Mainly because I doubt Mike Ashley has any intention of selling, as has been the case this entire 12 years when he has claimed he has been trying to sell.

However, I do believe that there is interest in buying the club.

Unlike the rubbish the UK based media come out with, which is either fantasy or fed by Mike Ashley’s people, I just can’t see the likes of both The Wall Street Journal and Bloomberg reporting this kind of story without any decent sources.

We now (11 February 2020) follow up from TWSJ.

Extract from The Wall Street Journal latest report:

“Early last year, when she came to PIF (Public Investment Fund) offices pitching the Newcastle United deal, two of the people involved in the talks say that they had no idea how she (Carla DiBello) got access.

“They said a superior told them Mr Ramayyan’s (Yasir Al-Rumayyan is Governor of the Public Investment Fund, the sovereign wealth fund of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, and the Chairman of Saudi Aramco) office wanted them to meet her.

“Some Saudi financial analysts were puzzled, wondering what she was doing there, one of them says Ms.DiBello told them that Newcastle United’s owner wanted to sell, that she and Ms.Staveley wanted to cut a deal for Saudi Arabia to put up the money and that the two women would play a role in managing the business for a fee and get a portion of equity, the person says.

“A Newcastle United spokesman declined to comment.”

The Saudis are desperate to diversify and invest elsewhere in the world on any number of projects/businesses.

As TWSJ says, financial analysts were surprised at Carla DiBello getting access to key people but that very strongly appears to have been the case.

There has been nonsense reporting both recently and in the past of how Amanda Staveley would/could buy NUFC herself, or a significant portion of it but that has never been the case.

Her business is helping to set up deals using others’ money and then paid a commission. In this case TWSJ report mentions both a small share (equity) in Newcastle United and then paid to help run the business, for both Carla DiBello and Amanda Staveley.

None of us know what it would take for Mike Ashley to give up Newcastle United, which is such a valuable asset to making his empire richer.

The general feeling all along is that it would take somebody with a lot of money, willing to pay more than the club is actually worth, due to them having grand plans well beyond just keeping NUFC ticking along season to season.

If there is the Saudi PIF levels of cash behind any bid, then that would certainly tick that box.

I think interest would always be there in buying Newcastle United if it was/is genuinely for sale, that never changes.

Mike Ashley is supposed to have been a ‘willing seller’ for these past 12 years now, I am yet to be convinced.


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