Newcastle United £340m takeover: Who are the key players? Amanda Staveley, Chris Mort, Reuben brothers, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and Saudi Arabia PIF consortium
It’s January, and takeover talk surrounding Newcastle United is back once again with Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund the latest to enter talks.
News of a potential £340m takeover bid from a Saudi backed consortium emerged over the weekend after The Magpies drew 0-0 with Oxford United in the FA Cup Fourth Round at St. James’ Park.
The Gazette understands that talks have been ongoing for around four months and are said to involve the British property investor billionaires the Reuben brothers as well as Amanda Staveley.
It is reported that the Public Investment Fund (PIF) of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is funding the bid.
Former Newcastle chairman Chris Mort is the man believed to be leading the takeover talks.
Here are some of the key players behind the latest proposed takeover…
A name that needs no introduction to Newcastle fans with her failed proposed takeover with PCP Capital Partners in 2017 a large reason why supporters view any takeover speculation with such scepticism.
Any hope that initially surrounded PCP’s reported £300m bid was dashed when Mike Ashley described the broken-down talks as ‘exhausting, frustrating and a complete waste of time.’
Staveley is involved once again and has registered two new companies this month. PZ Newco Ltd. is believed to be the company set-up to lead the purchase of Newcastle by the PIF.
‘PZ’ is thought to be an abbreviation of the ‘Project Zebra’ codename in relation to the takeover bid.
Staveley is known for her connections to the middle east that have seen her involved in the brokering of major investment deals including Sheikh Mansour’s purchase of Manchester City in 2008.
She is believed to have a net worth in the region of £130m and reportedly wants to take a 10% stake in the takeover venture.
The Wall Street Journal reported that British billionaires the Reuben Brothers are also involved in the proposed takeover bid.
Simon and David Reuben have amassed a near £20 billion fortune from real estate developments and property investment, ranking them second on the Sunday Times’ rich list.
Staveley has previously attempted to attract the family to Newcastle in the past as they were believed to have supported her 2017 bid before distancing themselves.
David’s son Jamie is thought to be have been behind the previous attempted takeover investment at Newcastle given his keen interest in football.
The Reuben’s do have significant connections to the city through their property portfolio.
While they would provide some serious financial clout, their involvement is expected to be similar to what it would have been previously in terms of investment.
Another name who may be familiar with Newcastle fans is Chris Mort.
The Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer lawyer worked on Ashley’s takeover of the club in 2007 and was appointed chairman during the 2007-08 campaign. He stepped down in June 2008 to be replaced by Derek Lambias.
Mort is now said to be leading the takeover talks between Newcastle and PIF on behalf of Staveley.
He has been in talks with Ashley's ‘advisor’ and associate Justin Barnes for a number of months regarding a potential takeover.
Mort’s previous dealings with Ashley and knowledge of the inner workings of the club, albeit over a decade ago, could prove useful in helping this deal come to fruition.
Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman & Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth Fund
Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund are believed to be behind Staveley’s latest takeover bid.
Talks are thought to be at an advanced stage though we’ve certainly been in this situation before.
Prince Mohammed is the chairman of the Public Investment Fund which is set to become the world’s largest sovereign wealth fund by 2030 by managing financial assets worth approximately $2 trillion.
PIF are a powerful group who own some of the largest and most profitable companies in the world including the Saudi Arabian oil company, Saudi Aramco
Saudi Aramco are the most profitable company in the world according to Bloomberg with a net income of $111.1 billion. They are also the sixth largest company on earth based on revenue alone.
PIF’s financial resources surpass most other investment groups but their potential initial level of investment in Newcastle is understood to be competitive for the Premier League, rather than significant.
Prince Mohammed, who has backed the bid, is known for his lavish lifestyle and has a personal wealth believed to be around £7 billion though the Saudi royal family is estimated to be worth around £1 trillion.
The prince has turned his head to the Premier League having previously being interested in purchasing Manchester United for a reported £3 billion.
He plans to use PIF to help Saudi Arabia become a global player in sport having previously funded Anthony Joshua’s rematch against Andy Ruiz Jr in Diriyah.
The 34-year-old has been a stand-out political figure in his home country with his attempts to fight corruption and improve the rights and liberties of women.
But human rights body Amnesty International have labelled the attempted takeover as ‘sportswashing’.
Amnesty believe it is another attempt by Saudi Arabia to use sport to clean up its image of having an ‘abysmal’ human rights record.
A potential takeover deal of Newcastle was thought to be “days or weeks away” with “sources close to the deal” telling The Guardian that they are “90% certain” that it will be completed.
But with previous bids that have been made public all coming to nothing, the scepticism surrounding it is understandable. Only time will tell.