US ty­coon’s in­ter­est in buy­out cools

Birmingham Post - - SPORT -

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

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