Who is Arthur Blank? Billionaire 'in talks' with Mike Ashley over Newcastle United takeover

Newcastle United owner Mike Ashley yesterday revealed that he is in advanced talks over the sale of the club to a mystery buyer.

The Magpies are on the market for around £300million as Ashley looks to sell the club after 11 years of ownership.

Arthur Blank

Arthur Blank

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The Sports Direct supremo told Sky News that he was hopeful of completing a deal before January. Asked if he was only speaking to one party, Ashley added: “No, but talks are at a more progressed stage than they have ever been.”

Ashley was giving nothing away on who the interested parties may be, but US billionaire Arthur Blank has been linked with a takeover in recent weeks.

But who is Blank, and why would he be interested in Newcastle? Here's what we know about him.

Mike Ashley

Mike Ashley

Who is Arthur Blank?

Blank, 76, is co-founder of The Home Depot, world’s largest home-improvement retailer and the fourth-largest retailer overall in North America, with more than 2,200 stores. He founded it with fellow businessman Bernard Marcus in 1978. The store revolutionised the home improvement business with its warehouse concept and Blank and Marcus became billionaires as a result. Blank spent 19 years as the company's president before succeeding Marcus as CEO. Blank retired from the company in 2001 as co-chairman.

READ MORE: Newcastle United 'close' to agreeing sale to US consortium

How much is he worth?

Forbes estimates that Blank's wealth is around the $4.6billion mark. Although he no longer owns Home Depot, he is believed to have 34 million shares in the company, which has a market cap of $165 billion.

Does he love his sport?

It seems so. In 2002, Blank bought American Football franchise Atlanta Falcons, who play in the NFL. He paid $545million for the franchise which is now worth more than $2billion. Two years later he bought the Arena Football League franchise, the Georgia Force; he moved the team to the city of Atlanta after it had spent several years in suburban Gwinnett County. Blank was then linked with several other sport franchises, including baseball outfit Atlanta Braves. However, he then founded an expansion Major League Soccer franchise named Atlanta United FC that began play in 2017. The club shares Mercedes-Benz Stadium with the Falcons.

How true are the rumours of Blank and Newcastle?

Blank's name has been mentioned on several occasions over the last couple of weeks as takeover talk has seemed to intensify. A report a fortnight ago claimed that Ashley had been in the United States trying to complete a deal, and that there were hopes that it could be completed by January.