Singapore-backed firm in takeover talks for Newcastle
Newcastle United, the English Premier League soccer club, have held talks with Bellagraph Nova Group over a potential takeover, the Singapore-backed company has claimed.
BNG, which was founded by Singapore-based investors Evangeline Shen, Nelson Loh and Terence Loh, and headquartered in Paris, revealed that discussions have taken place with Newcastle owner Mike Ashley in recent days and are ongoing.
According to the group, negotiations are at an advanced stage and it is willing to "massively contribute" to the club's development.
In a statement, BNG said: "Bellagraph Nova Group's founders (have) already provided a LOI (Letter of Intent) as well as a proof of funds on 10 August.
"In addition to the engagement to the Newcastle Football Club and community, Bellagraph Nova Group enlisted help of England captain Alan Shearer and former player Michael Chopra."
BNG has moved quickly to open talks with Ashley after Newcastle’s proposed Saudi Arabia-backed takeover recently fell through.
After months of delays, the consortium, which included Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund PIF, businesswomen Amanda Staveley’s PCP Capital Partners and UK property moguls the Reuben Brothers, recently announced it had ended its bid to buy the club.
Under the consortium’s plan, Staveley was to run the business on behalf of the consortium but the Premier League reportedly had concerns over the involvement of the Saudi state and a lack of clarity over who will be running the club, spending more than four months assessing them under its owners and directors test. The ratification process usually takes up to four weeks.
The takeover was further complicated by a World Trade Organisation report released in June which said representatives of the Saudi state had facilitated the pirate network beoutQ, which illegally broadcasts a host of sporting events, including Premier League matches.
Frustrated by the impasse, Staveley, who fronted the bid, announced the consortium was pulling out of the bid, blaming the Premier League for its continued scrutiny and rival clubs for opposing the buyout.
As well as BNG, US businessman and television executive Henry Mauriss is interested in buying Newcastle and was considered the favourite after the collapse of the Saudi deal.
Mauriss is believed to have made an 11th hour bid for the club in June for £50 million ($65.6 million) more than the £300 million agreed between the Saudi-backed consortium and Ashley.
At the time, it was reported that Mauriss, who owns US television company ClearTV, would be looking to complete a deal before the start of the 2020-21 Premier League season.
Ashley has remained in talks with Mauriss since the start of last month after an exclusivity clause in the deal with the Saudi’s expired.
It now appears Ashley is engaged in talks with more than one suitor in an attempt to potentially complete a takeover before the start of the new season, which begins on 12 September.
BNG owns 31 entities and generated around $12 billion in revenue last year, according to its website.
Meanwhile, LD Sports, the Chinese sports and marketing platform, is set to end its shirt sponsorship deal with Southampton two years early, it has been reported.
The Premier League club signed a three-year agreement with the company in May 2019 in what was described as a record deal for the club, worth around £7.5 million per year but LD Sports is set to walk away from its partnership with the club, according to the Daily Mail newspaper.
The move is set to cost Southampton £15 million but the south coast outfit are already believed to be looking for a new main sponsor in anticipation of the termination.
The newspaper reports that LD Sports’ decision has been taken because of the political situation between China and the UK, as well as investment concerns due to ongoing uncertainties around the Covid-19 pandemic.
There has been growing tension between London and Beijing in recent months, with the UK government having imposed a ban on domestic mobile providers buying 5G equipment from Chinese technology firm Huawei after 2020, and ordering a phase-out of the kit by 2027, and opposing a new security law that has been imposed in the former British colony of Hong Kong.
It is unclear if this could also potentially affect other Premier League clubs with Chinese sponsors, including Newcastle which recently extended their deal with sports betting brand Fun88.
There are also strained relations between China and the Premier League as one of its biggest international rights partners PPTV, the Suning-owned streaming platform, failed to make a rights-fee payment earlier this year during the suspension of the league because of the coronavirus pandemic.
PPTV, and state broadcaster CCTV, hold Premier League rights in China
until the end of the 2021-22 campaign, in a three-year, $700 million deal
Last month, CCTV moved its Premier League coverage to the less-popular CCTV5 Plus Sport channel, the consequence of an intensifying diplomatic dispute.
Elsewhere, Arsenal have become the third Premier League club this month to partner with Mondelēz International, the USA-based snack company, after today announcing a sponsorship deal.
Under a global partnership, Cadbury becomes the club’s official snack partner.
Arsenal and Cadbury will collaborate on a number of community initiatives which will begin with the brand donating digital advertising opportunities from the partnership to the local North London-based Little Wonder Cafe to “help drive wide awareness, return custom and match day footfall when fans return to the stadium.”
This will include email newsletters, digital advertising and match day programmes.
The collaboration between club, Cadbury and the Little Wonder Cafe was launched with the help of Arsenal legend Ian Wright, who is also a Cadbury ambassador.
Cadbury will also activate the sponsorship through several fan engagement activities including its ‘Match and Win’ promotion, offering fans a chance to win club prizes, hospitality experiences and match tickets.
Cadbury was an official sponsor of the Premier League in a deal running until the end of the 2019-20 season, which marked its first foray into soccer sponsorship.