US groups linked with bids for Parma and West Ham
Parma, of Italian soccer’s top-tier Serie A, are reported to be close to a takeover by the billionaire Krause family from USA, in a deal worth over €100 million ($119 million).
A deal is set to be in place by the end of this week, with the Krause Group taking a controlling 60 per cent stake in the club, according to the UK's Financial Times newspaper.
The club returned to Serie A in 2018 after three straight promotions.
It is reported that Parma's current investors - a combination of Chinese group Desports and local businessmen - will retain minority stakes for a further five years at least.
Parma Calcio 1913, officially formed in 2015 after the club’s original iteration was declared bankrupt following a decade of financial tribulations, started life in Serie D, but rose through the divisions, and finished 11th in the top flight last season.
If the takeover goes through, Parma will become the fourth Serie A club with a controlling stake held by US investors, joining AC Milan, Fiorentina, and Roma.
Roma’s takeover by Dan Friedkin, a US-based billionaire, was completed last month, in a deal worth $700 million.
This would be the Krause Group’s first foray into top-level sport as the group’s only other sporting property to date is the Des Moines Menace, which competes in the second division of North America's United Soccer League.
Meanwhile, the Guardian newspaper has reported that a US-based consortium is preparing a fresh offer having had a £350 million ($450 million) bid for English Premier League club West Ham United rejected.
The potential buyers are said to be already involved in sport in USA.
It is claimed that the first bid was made in early August, but rejected by West Ham owners David Gold and David Sullivan on the grounds that while the acquisition of a minority stake was an option, the club is not up for sale.
Despite this, a fresh bid is expected in the next few weeks although it will not involve US investor Tripp Smith who already owns 10 per cent of the club.
West Ham finished 16th in the Premier League last season.
Meanwhile, Newcastle United’s owner Mike Ashley has hired law firm Blackstone Chambers in an ongoing dispute with the league over a collapsed takeover of the club earlier this summer.
Prominent sports lawyer Nick de Marco is among those whose services have been engaged.
Ashley has asserted that the Premier League was responsible for the withdrawal in July of a £300 million offer from a consortium led by Saudi Arabia's sovereign wealth fund PIF, and that the owners and directors test (which all those wishing to be involved in owning a club must pass) was not applied correctly to all of the members of the group.
However, the Premier League has maintained that the consortium withdrew before it was asked to make such an assessment.
There were widespread concerns over the deal because of Saudi Arabia’s human rights record and the country's harbouring of beoutQ, a pirate broadcaster that has been responsible for the stealing of content from companies including BeIN Media Group, the Premier League rights holder in the Middle East and North Africa.