The owners of American basketball team the Cleveland Cavaliers have teamed up with one of the four remaining bidders for Chelsea Football Club as the auction of last season’s Champions League winners enters the final stages.
Sky News is exclusively able to announce that Rock Entertainment Group (REG), which owns a number of US sports teams, has agreed to take a stake in the consortium set up by the Ricketts family, who own the Chicago Cubs, and the hedge fund tycoon Ken Griffin.
Sources said Saturday night that Rock Entertainment Group has agreed to invest a sizeable – although undisclosed – sum in the deal.
The appearance of Dan Gilbert, one of America’s richest people with a fortune estimated by Forbes magazine at nearly $31 billion, as a participant in the auction raises the stakes even more as a quartet of bidders bid to succeed Roman Abramovich as owner of Chelsea vies.
In addition to the Cleveland Cavaliers, REG owns the Cleveland Monsters ice hockey team and the NBA G-League team, the Cleveland Charge.
Mr. Gilbert is also an investor in the fast-growing esports arena, with a major stake in 100 Thieves, which has a significant esports presence in Europe.
Overall, Mr. Gilbert leads an empire of more than 100 affiliated companies across the United States employing more than 30,000 people.
He acquired a majority stake in the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2005, since then the team has reached the NBA Finals five times and won the championship in 2016.
Mr. Gilbert is said to have privately invested more than $400 million in the Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse, the stadium where the Cavaliers and the Monsters play.
People close to him said he has also privately invested more than $25 million in the Cavaliers’ practice facility.
The Ricketts-led bid for Chelsea has faced challenges over the past two weeks due to a backlash over historic comments from a family member not involved in the bid.
After meeting supporter groups last month, Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts said the bid team had “listened to all of your feedback – including from the Chelsea Supporters’ Trust – and are grateful the door is still open for us to show our commitment.” to demonstrate working with the fans to protect the club’s legacy”.
“It is now up to us to redouble our efforts and create a clear vision for our leadership of the club, with diversity and inclusion at its core.”
Supporters of their bid have pointed to the family’s successful ownership of the Cubs, which won the World Series for the first time in a century and completed a $1 billion renovation of their home, Wrigley Field — one of the most historic sports arenas in the United States USA .
A Bid insider said the Cleveland Cavaliers’ focus on diversity, equity and inclusion programs could help allay any lingering concerns from the Chelsea fan base about the consortium’s suitability to own Chelsea.
They also highlighted the philanthropic efforts of Mr. Gilbert and his wife Jennifer, who have pledged $500 million to Detroit revitalization projects.
A person close to them said they also signed The Giving Pledge in 2012, promising that at least half of their entire fortune would be donated to philanthropy at the end of their lives.
On Friday, Sky News announced that the Ricketts-led offering had bolstered its advisory offering by adding US investment bank Jefferies to its team.
Jefferies’ appointment alongside Lazard — another advisor to the Ricketts-Griffin bid — underscores how Wall Street banks are vying for roles in what may be the most lucrative sports franchise sale in history.
People close to the consortium confirmed the deal would be an equity-only offering, with no new debt adding to Chelsea’s balance sheet.
Final bids are due on April 11th
Final Chelsea bids are due on April 11 and the Cubs owners will face three credible rivals as they vie to succeed Mr Abramovich at Stamford Bridge.
A spokesman for the Ricketts-Griffin bid declined to comment on REG’s involvement.
Sky News announced this week that the fan-co-founded group Ex-Chelsea captain John Terry has been in “positive” talks with two of the shortlisted bidders to acquire a 10 percent stake.
People close to the bidders believe the price could surge above £2.5bn while rivals prepare final bids.
Raine Group, the consultant handling the sale, intends to make a preferential offer to the government over the following week to pave the way for a sale before the end of the month.
Collectively, the final bidders also control or own interests in US teams, including the Boston Celtics, the Cubs, the LA Dodgers, the Philadelphia 76ers, and the Sacramento Kings.
Alongside the Ricketts-led syndicates Mr Boehly and Sir Martin, the other candidate to buy Chelsea is Stephen Pagliuca, an American private equity billionaire who owns a large stake in Atalanta in Italy’s Serie A.
By the standards of traditional takeover processes, the Chelsea auction has moved at breakneck speed, with executives from other major investment banks suggesting that such a complex sale would normally have taken at least six months.
Bidders have asked for clarification on the legal implications
The UK government’s sanctioning of Mr Abramovich has further complicated the transaction as bidders have sought clarity on the legal implications of buying the club.
Prior to his sanctioning, Mr. Abramovich had said he intended to take out a $1.5 billion loan.
A quick sale is seen as essential if Chelsea are to stave off the uncertainty that the dissolution of one of the top flight’s most valuable player teams would trigger.
The current Fifa Club World Cup winners have been reeling from Russia’s war in Ukraine, with Mr Abramovich first proposing placing the club in the care of his foundation and then officially putting it up for sale.
Mr Abramovich had initially put a £3billion price tag on the Stamford Bridge outfit, with the net proceeds being donated to a charitable foundation set up to help victims of the war in Ukraine.
As well as government approval in the form of a special licence, Chelsea’s new owners will also need Premier League approval as part of their suitability and ownership test.
Chelsea FC Sale: Cleveland Cavaliers Owners Join Cubs and Griffin Bid Team | business news
Source link Chelsea FC Sale: Cleveland Cavaliers Owners Join Cubs and Griffin Bid Team | business news