Writer: Mikey Delap
Date:Wednesday August 4 2010
Ahasan Ali Syed, head of Bahrain-Swiss based investment firm Western Gulf Advisory, has joined the race to buy Blackburn Rovers.
Ali Syed is big in the business world with WGA and has a more recognisable face than current interested party Saurin Shah.
There are numerous morning papers running with this story and the Daily telegraph stumps up the most information with regards Syed.
The Daily Telegraph is reporting - "WGA is thought to have £8 billion in assets under its control and recently took a 50 per cent stake in Irish builders McCabe in a strategic investment deal understood to be worth £300 million.
Syed, 36, is originally from Hyderabad and is the sole heir to the family business which traces its wealth to the East India Company. Educated at the London School of Economics, he is a qualified lawyer and maintains a string of racehorses in Bahrain. He divides his time between Bahrain and Switzerland.
He proposes to use personal family funds channelled through the firm to complete the takeover at Ewood Park, having singled Blackburn out because of their potential for growth.
Tellingly, Syed considered seeking a deal for more celebrated clubs and has looked at Liverpool, but considers Blackburn a closer fit with WGA's investment model, which focuses on turning around well-run businesses and acting as an investment partner.
It is understood that Rothschilds, the investment bank, has alerted the club and the trustees of the late Jack Walker's estate to Syed's interest and they are understood to be interested in his approach.
Syed would like to conclude a deal in principle this month and complete the sale in September.
The club have effectively been for sale for two years after the Walker estate made clear that it was no longer in a position to underwrite the club indefinitely. Steel magnate Walker bankrolled the club to the 1995 Premier League title and - under the terms of a 1987 settlement - his family trust undertook to continue investing in the club.
That money has now dried up and chairman John Williams has been leading the search for new investment.
Earlier this summer another Indian, Saurin Shah, signalled his intention to table a £25 million bid, promising to tap into Blackburn's large Asian community to help fill Ewood Park.
Shah was hoping to tie up a deal by mid-July but sources have indicated that the deal has 'gone quiet', opening the door for the Syed bid.
It is understood that Syed is proposing to use WGA funds to complete a swift takeover, clearing the club's debts of around £20 million and offering an unspecified payment to the Walker Trust for their equity in the club. The balance of the £300 million would then be committed to the club over the long term.
The offer of £300 million of fresh investment could transform Blackburn's prospects but it is understood Syed is not proposing a Manchester City-style splurge that would bring Galacticos to Lancashire.
Money will be made available for new players, as Syed accepts the current first-team squad is short of the quality required to prosper in the Premier League, but he is thought to favour a measured approach.
The club declined to comment on any potential takeover, saying the matter was in the hands of Rothschilds.
The promise of such a wealthy new owner would transform Blackburn's prospects and lift them from the annual struggle to remain in the upper half of the Premier League and to balance the books.
Last season the club made a loss of £6.5 million on turnover of £50.9 million, largely because of a wage bill that accounted for 90 per cent of revenue. Despite this, Williams predicted Blackburn would return to being a 'trading' club rather than a 'net seller'. If Syed succeeds in his bid that will be assured.'
A long read for sure but this could be the big move that could propel us back to the league if successful.
Unlike Shah this guy seems to have a very active presence and has a great track record of running businesses like a unit.
It just seems to fit...
Date:Wednesday August 4 2010
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