Birmingham City holding firm receives offer for club

Birmingham City holding firm receives offer for club

HONG KONG - Birmingham City's Hong Kong holding company said it received an undisclosed offer for a stake in the football club, sending its shares soaring, months after its owner Carson Yeung was jailed for money laundering.

In a filing to the city's stock exchange, Birmingham International Holdings Limited said: "The company received an indicative, non-binding offer from a third party in relation to a possible acquisition of an interest in Birmingham City." It did not disclose the offered amount or the identity of the bidder, but said: "if a disposal was to be agreed, only up to 24 per cent interest of BCFC should be disposed of".

"No formal agreement" has been entered in relation with the offer, the statement, which was filed late Monday, said.

Shares in the company surged 43.3 per cent to HK$0.175 (S$0.03) in response to the news on Tuesday morning after trading in it was suspended ahead of the announcement.

Birmingham-based Daniel Ivery said on his "Often Partisan" fanblog: "As news goes it is vague and an anti-climax - but it does confirm the stories that the club would be sold piecemeal to any potential investors." Yeung was jailed six years in march at the end of a case that gripped the southern Chinese city and fans of the English football club with its tales of unexplained dealings and financial transactions involving local businessmen and an alleged triad member.

Yeung - who was charged in June 2011, two years after he bought the team - has appealed against the conviction.

He remains the largest shareholder in the club, according to the Hong Kong stock exchange website, despite resigning from all positions at its holding company before the trial verdict.

Birmingham City - which was relegated from the Premiership in 2011, three months after winning the League Cup - has been in talks with potential bidders over the past few years.

In October 2012, Birmingham Holdings said it was in talks with two potential buyers, a month after it rejected an offer from an unnamed party.

Reports named the failed buyer as an Italian consortium led by Gianni Paladini, the former chairman of Premier League club Queens Park Rangers, which had offered £12 million (S$20.54 million).

Little known before his emergence in English football, Yeung took control of Birmingham in October 2009 in an £81 million takeover from David Sullivan and David Gold, now the co-owners of West Ham United.

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