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Bellagraph Nova Group announce still in talks and trying to close deal to buy Newcastle United

4 weeks ago
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The Bellagraph Nova Group have now announced that they are still in ongoing talks with Mike Ashley’s representatives and are totally committed to buying Newcastle United.

As a sideshow to the Saudi PIF attempt to buy the club, we were also treated to the seemingly bizarre claims that if that bid failed, either the mysterious Henry Mauriss or the Bellagraph Nova Group would step in and buy the football club itself.

The journalists claiming Henry Mauriss was a potential buyer, couldn’t even back up their claims with any credible evidence of how he could possibly finance a deal, with absolutely no signs in the public domain he had the kind of money needed.

To be fair to the media, it is the Bellagraph Nova Group who have continually pushed their own claims of being credible bidders for Newcastle United, which has attracted so many layers of ridicule as their claims of being this massive organisation with a $12billion turnover in 2019 and 23,000 employees, appeared to completely unravel.

However, in an exclusive interview with the BBC, one of the co-founders of the Bellagraph Nova Group, Evangeline Shen, has now once again insisted that they ARE pushing ahead with their bid for Newcastle United Football Club.

Evangeline Shen telling the BBC:

“I can tell you our team just met Mike Ashley’s representative last week on the process in Paris again.

“Bidding for Newcastle is part of our strategy because it’s a well-known football club but still has room to improve, and we believe that improvement is good for the club as well as for our brand.

“We started real planning for the club such as whom to hire as trainer and whom to sign for players.

“We are always in contact and we are still very aggressive on trying to close the deal.”

For Newcastle fans the season has already been bizarre enough and it is still less than three weeks old, the claims by Bellagraph Nova Group that they are serious bidders will no doubt bring a mixture of amusement and annoyance. Newcastle supporters desperate for Mike Ashley to sell the club but very very difficult to see the Bellagraph Nova Group as serious bidders, no matter what they say. A belief that they are simply using the football club to give them a higher profile.

The BBC contacted Singapore-based corporate governance expert Mak Yuen Teen to ask about the seemingly outrageous claims that Bellagraph Nova Group have made about the size and strength of their organisation ($12billion turnover, 23,000 employees, photoshopping Barak Obama into photos, alongside other dubious press releases and media claims etc etc):

“I have seen listed companies continually misrepresent themselves including on the Singapore Exchange – announcing deals that are false, using fake degrees, but this is at a whole new level.

“It’s quite unbelievable that a $12bn company with 23,000 employees appear out of nowhere.

“Most likely they are claiming potential partners as part of their business.

When the BBC raised this with Evangeline Shen:

“The calculation [of $12billion and 23,000 employees etc] we have is a generic one because we can only base on what our partner firms and our subsidiaries tell us to consolidate.

“I understand the numbers may look large, but as the nature of online business, it’s very normal to have a lot of employees.”

Since they made their claims about supposedly trying to buy Newcastle United, Evangeline Shen and her business partners found themselves the subject of much publicity, which was almost certainly the whole reason for making the claims.

However, what Terence Loh, Nelson Loh and Evangeline Shen didn’t appear to have bargained for, was just how much attention the media and inquisitive journalists would give to the finer detail, as in, the claims that Bellagraph Nova Group make about themselves and the supposed reach, power and wealth of their organisation.

On Friday 21 August a brilliant piece from Reuters looked into the credentials of the Bellagraph Nova Group.

BNG claiming to have that turnover of $12billion in 2019 and to having 23,000 employees, they also claimed that their main headquarters were now in Paris BUT Reuters could find no records of a company called Bellagraph Nova Group registered in France.

In addition, Reuters could not find any company by that name at the address it had been given as the BNG HQ (10 Place Vendome), one of their reporters visited the address and there is an office rental business operated by Regus in the building, with a receptionist saying BNG Group has used some office space there but its staff were not always present….

Bellagraph Nova Group do indeed have an office in Singapore and Reuters visited it, they reported that it was on the top floor of a four storey building, above a pet shop and a restaurant.

As it happens, Newcastle fan and long time contributor to The Mag, Jonathan Drape-Comyn, currently lives in Singapore. So after the piece by Reuters, Jonathan had a walk around to the Bellagraph Nova Group Singapore HQ and took the photo below of their offices (on the top floor)…

Then Reuters did a follow up on 1 September on their original article about the Bellagraph Nova Group (BNG) owners and associated businesses..

In that Reuters follow up report on the owners of the Bellagraph Nova Group, they said there had been a number of resignations of directors from consultancy Axington AXIN.SI, which is also owned by Singaporean cousins Terence and Nelson Loh.

Reuters say that the resignations included its chairman, Evangeline Shen, these board exits followed the former US ambassador to Singapore’s decision to quit the firm as well the previous week.

That report adding that amongst those directors quitting, was executive director Marjory Loh, who is Terence Loh’s sister. She cited “recent intense public scrutiny on the company” for stepping down, in reference to what has happened since the Bellagraph Nova Group claimed to be bidding for Newcastle United.

Reuters added:

‘In other recent developments, luxury jewellery brand Bulgari (LVMH.PA) has refuted the group’s claims of a business association, and Singapore’s Business Times newspaper reported some regional investors were trying to withdraw investments from other BN group entities.

The Singapore Exchange’s regulatory arm last week called for a probe of Axington’s directors “in light of recent developments”, shortly before the company postponed a shareholder meeting saying it needed time to review its plans.

A spokeswoman for Singapore’s corporate regulator ACRA has also said it is taking enforcement action on two other companies linked to the Lohs for not filing annual returns.’

Meanwhile the Straits Times reported how the Bellagraph Nova Group were quizzed about countless press releases in recent months and numerous claims on their own official website, their response was that it ‘appears to be the result of the actions of certain errant individuals’ and they were investigating…

Safe to say that those behind the Bellagraph Nova Group and associated companies, were regretting the decision to claim they were serious bidders for Newcastle United. A decision seemingly made to try and get themselves publicity and to improve their profile. Well they certainly got the publicity…

What they hope to gain by these latest claims is anybody’s guess.

Their claims appearing to be about as believable as Steve Bruce claiming he will always play front foot football at Newcastle United.

The BBC said that Newcastle United Football Club declined to comment on the bid when approached by them.

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