The view from Dubai on the Newcastle United takeover – the inside track on the financial clout and intentions of the Bin Zayed Group and Sheikh Khaled
The Bin Zayed Group are "the real deal" and Sheikh Khaled is a "real player" in terms of finance and business acumen – that's the view from Dubai on the potential takeover of Newcastle United.
All has gone quiet on the takeover front at United in the last fortnight.
The previously vocal Bin Zayed representative Midhat Kidwai has gone to ground, the club are continuing their no comment approach, so too are the Premier League.
That's led to a meltdown on social media among the United faithful
But what has the reaction been like in the Middle East? We've spoken to radio and TV sports presenter and pundit of more than a decade, Dubai resident and Geordie Peter Redding, who works for Capital Radio out in the UAE, whose given us some interesting insight into BZG and Sheikh Khaled.
Q: Who is Sheikh Khaled? Is he a serious player in terms of finance and status in the UAE? Same question re the Bin Zayed Group?
A: Sheikh Khaled Bin Zayed Al Nehayan is a well-respected business pioneer of the UAE, of that there is no doubt.
A little look at his CV, shows how qualified the man is - he is a graduate of Boston University, has completed his PHD course work in finance from Michigan State University.
He is the chairman and founder of the Bin Zayed Group - established in 1988. Their business interests not only stretch across the Middle East but also the international markets in areas such as construction, energy, industry, real estate and financial services.
Sheikh Khaled is a major player in a number of public and private offices and organisations.
A look at his website tells the story of his standing in the UAE: "He serves as chairman of SALAMA, the largest Islamic Takaful and Re-Takaful Company in the world and Tamweel- a Shariah compliant property mortgage and finance corporation. In addition, Sheikh Khaled is on the board of numerous sovereign entities; serving as chairman of Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT), board member of Dubai Real-Estate Corporation DREC (WASL), Dubai School of Government, UAE Insurance Authority, as well as chairman/board of the Executive Committee of Dubai Economic Council (DEC)."
Q: What kind of wealth does he (& the group) have at his/their disposal? And what are his connections with the royal family tree over there?
A: Given his wealth you only have to look at the company's trading and profits. Here in the UAE local business people do not speak of wealth it is known as Haram (not allowed). But it is definitely safe to say he is a serious player.
Q: What do you believe their motives to be in buying a Premier League football club? Where do you understand the deal to be at? What kind of timescales do you think they've put on the deal? Do you think this period of silence can be viewed in a positive or negative light?
A: As far as a deal currently - I think the silence is key. And that can definitely be seen as a positive.
I have open contact with BZG and, speaking to them, I feel a deal to buy Newcastle United is not far away.
Knowing the culture of the UAE and being involved in sport, this is no smokescreen as viewed by many back in the UK. This group are the real deal.
Q: What sort of owners would you envisage BZG & Sheikh Khaled to be at Newcastle, should the takeover progress? What kind of transfer budgets do you think they might offer to a manager?
A: I think BZG group are looking to replicate foreign ownership from the likes of Man City and PSG. While I don’t think that kind of wealth is an option I can see this being huge for Newcastle United.
Key statements made by BZG on the Newcastle United takeover
May 27: “In response to numerous reports in the world media this morning, we would like to comment as follows.
“We can confirm the representatives of his Highness Sheikh Khaled Bin Zayed Al Nahyan are in discussions with Mike Ashley and his team about the proposed acquisition of Newcastle United Football Club.
“We view it as an honour to have the opportunity to build on the strong support, history and tradition of the club.
“We have agreed terms and are working hard to complete the transaction at the earliest opportunity.
“Best Regards, Midhat Kidwai, Group Managing Director, Bin Zayed Group.”
May 29: "In consideration of the numerous speculations in regards to the timelines of the acquisition of Newcastle United Football Club by Bin Zayed Group, we feel the need to issue this statement.
"Terms have been agreed between us and Mike Ashley; these terms have been reflected in a document, signed by both parties, which has been forwarded to the Premier League.The proof of funds statement was forwarded to Mike Ashley’s lawyers on 17 April 2019.
“The so called fit-and-proper Premier League process is a standard procedure which will take time, and we are doing all we can to assist the Premier League during this process.
"We feel the need to clarify this point in order for the fans and the general public to understand the timelines."