US tycoon’s interest in buyout cools
PETER Freund’s interest in Villa has cooled – the US tycoon was plotting a £75million takeover bid but has now backed out after careful consideration.
Freund put the feelers out last week as talk of selling crisis club Villa quickly escalated.
He consulted with friends in high places, such was his strong interest. It’s understood former Villa owner Randy Lerner was even contacted, too.
But a formal offer is now unlikely from the super-rich businessman, who has a minority shareholding in the New York Yankees.
Tony Xia’s reluctance to sell means only a huge offer will turn his head. The Chinese owner is currently seeking a £30million investment to help ease Villa’s financial problems.
Xia wants a huge cash injection in exchange for a negotiable percentage of equity.
It is understood he will only consider selling if he can get what he paid for the club. For that to happen, a takeover bid of £80million-plus would need to be lodged.
There are prospective buyers out there and one interested group could come forward before the end of the week.
Whether they will meet Xia’s valuation is another matter, though. What’s certain is that the owner is desperately clinging on to the club he purchased in 2016.
But he knows a cash injection is imperative as an £11million bill is due at the end of the month for outstanding player payments and other running costs are also adding up.
Another issue is the added pressure from former CEO Keith Wyness, who is suing the club for constructive dismissal. That could cost the club up to £6m.
Villa confirmed the departure, saying: “We can confirm that Keith Wyness has now left the club. The club notes the media speculation relating to Keith’s departure and prospective legal proceedings. The club will be happy to defend legal proceedings if called on to do so and does not propose to comment further at this time.”
COMMENT By MAT KENDRICK >
There are more questions than answers surrounding Steve Bruce’s future at Villa. Right, Keith Wyness