Discussion in 'Football Forum' started by Lord Cissé III, Oct 31, 2005.
Is this the dawn of an era of Aston Villa dominance?
a couple of Irish builders
Things are looking up
Builders you say, they might be able to complete the deal a week next thursday, if they can fit it in.
Apparently they used to be racehorse owners and are using the cash from a deal they made with some bubbly American fella...
Good start for Villa.
Ellis' Aston Villa Confirms Takeover Approach
Chris Noon, 31/10/05, Forbes
As British soccer watches the plutocracy move in--U.S. entrepreneur Malcolm Glazer bought Manchester United this year, baby-faced tycoon Roman Abramovich picked up debt-encumbered Chelsea in 2003 and Lithuanian banker Vladimir Romanov made an offer for Edinburgh-based Hearts on Oct. 21--its fans are no longer discussing the vagaries of defensive formations and the price of steak and kidney pies. There's still a jocular pre-match hubbub in U.K. pubs on Saturdays; yet if you listen closely, you'll hear the lexicon of businessmen--as aficionados weigh consortiums, long-term profits and Russian billionaires.
Now Birmingham-based club Aston Villa, currently languishing in the lower echelons of the Premier League, has confirmed it has received a "preliminary approach'' from local businessman Michael Neville. One U.K. newspaper report suggested the success-starved claret and blue team will conclude the formalities of a takeover at a meeting Wednesday.
Although the $114 million takeover bid is being mainly financed by brothers Brian and Luke Comer--who control Irish property concern The Comer Homes Group, the front man for the consortium is the lifelong Villa fan Neville.
Octogenarian Chairman Doug Ellis and major shareholder Jack Petchey have apparently agreed to yield their combined stake of 58%, the newspaper report added. Yet the tone coming from Villa was a little cooler: "The board have not met with any other members of the consortium group nor received any confirmation of the availability of sufficient funding to support any potential offer and so they can only treat the approach as speculative at this stage,'' the club said in a statement Monday.
Villa fans would welcome any cash injection, giving manager David O'Leary ample funds to spend on players if the offer is accepted. Many supporters are cheesed off with the team's mediocrity and what they perceive as the lack of backing Ellis has given club managers over the past 20 years. Anyhow, back to the beautiful game--Villa, which has won just two of its 10 games this season--plays Manchester City tonight.
Property tycoons building genuine interest in Villa
By Ashling O’Connor
The Times November 1 2005
WHEN Brian Comer, one of the Irish brothers lining up a bid for Aston Villa, happened across a struggling golf course in Hertfordshire, he thought the clubhouse would make a grand home. So he bought the course at Forest Hills and now all his friends, as well as his elder brother, Luke, who lives nearby, can play 18 holes when they come to visit.
It is unlikely the 45-year-old London-based property developer would be keen on setting up house at Villa Park, and nor could the Midlands club be accurately described as financially troubled, but that has not stopped the millionaire siblings from eyeing it as their next big investment.
They are not the first to run the slide rule over Villa, a club that in business terms is asset-rich and debt-free. Ray Ranson, the former Manchester City defender turned sports financier, has tried vainly several times to loosen the grip of “Deadly” Doug Ellis, the octogenarian chairman. Ranson’s bid, worth £47 million, was not even entertained by Ellis, who owns a majority stake of about 38 per cent, and it was rejected formally in July.
The latest bid, from the Comer consortium, values the club much higher, at about £64 million, or £5.60 a share, which would give Ellis and Jack Petchey, the property speculator who has a 20.1 per cent stake, a healthier profit. The Comers, crucially, appear ready to preserve Ellis’s influence at the club through a nonexecutive directorship while affording him the perks and privileges he deems priceless.
Besides League Cup triumphs in 1994 and 1996, Villa last won anything significant in 1981, when they beat Bayern Munich in the European Cup final. The Comer consortium, fronted by Michael Neville, appears to want to put the club back at the top.
The Solihull-based businessman, who is said to be a lifelong fan, is expected to run the club day to day as executive chairman. He will have the backing of Comer Homes Group, the brothers’ £1 billion property business that would become the club’s parent company. The promise to supporters is for a guaranteed investment pot for team and stadium upgrades of £20 million per season. It is a pledge that should please David O’Leary, the Villa manager, who has blamed the team’s poor run on a lack of transfer funds.
Some fans will remain wary of their motivations, however. As demonstrated by Petchey’s involvement, Villa is a good property investment that has little to do with the football. The net book value of the club’s tangible assets as of May 31 was more than £39 million. The club ended the financial year with net cash of £600,000.
Furthermore, the Comers bear a striking resemblance to John Magnier and J. P. McManus, the Irishmen who made a profit of more than £80 million when they sold their stake in Manchester United to Malcolm Glazer in May.
Like Magnier, Luke Comer is a well-known horse breeder who runs a stud in Dunboyne, Co Meath. He has trained a number of horses owned by the wife of Sir Anthony O’Reilly, the Irish media tycoon.
The London-based Comer brothers have made their fortune from scratch. They have developed a reputation for successfully converting rundown historic buildings into high-end modern accommodation. They are shrewd investors who are not in the business of losing money.
Completion of a takeover may still be some way off, despite a suggestion that the offer could be agreed tomorrow. The club yesterday sought to quell the takeover speculation that pushed the shares up nearly 13 per cent to close at 470p. The price valued Aston Villa at about £54 million.
NOT SO DEADLY? HOW ELLIS COMPARES
ASTON VILLA managers have been allowed 4½ years on average to do their worst, while in Doug Ellis’s two spells at the helm since 1968, 11 managers have departed Villa Park. Ellis, nicknamed Deadly Doug, has dismissed seven of them. His most potent spell was in the mid-1980s when three went in quick
succession and few would argue that Dr Jozef Venglos deserved longer than ten months after Graham Taylor took over England in 1990.
Tommy Docherty (Dec 1968-Jan 1970) Dismissed
Vic Crowe (Jan 1970-May 1974) Dismissed
Tony Barton (Feb 1982-May 1984) Dismissed
Graham Turner (July 1984-Sept 1986) Dismissed
Billy McNeill (Sept 1986-May 1987) Dismissed
Graham Taylor (July 1987-July 1990) Resigned
Dr Jozef Venglos (Aug 1990-May 1991) Dismissed
Ron Atkinson (June 1991-Nov 1994) Dismissed
Brian Little (Nov 1994-Feb 1998) Resigned
John Gregory (Feb 1998-Jan 2002) Dismissed
Graham Taylor (Feb 2002-May 2003) Resigned
Aston Villa up on bid approach
By Matthew Garrahan,Leisure Correspondent
FT: November 1 2005
Aston Villa has received a preliminary takeover approach from an Irish property consortium, the football club said yesterday.
Although no offer has been tabled, the consortium's bid is believed to be worth 560p a share, valuing the Midlands club at more than £60m. Shares in Aston Villa yesterday rose by 57½p, or about 14 per cent, to 475p.
The consortium is being led by Michael Neville, chairman of World Television, a quoted media production group. Mr Neville could not be reached for comment. However, he is believed to be acting for Luke and Brian Cromer, a pair of Irish property developers.
Villa said it had received a "preliminary approach" from Mr Neville but said it had not met "any other members of the consortium group nor received any confirmation of the availability of sufficient funding to support any potential offer".
It added it could "only treat the approach as speculative at this stage".
The interest in Villa follows an abortive takeover bid from Ray Ranson, a former footballer.
Any successful takeover would require the consent of Doug Ellis, Villa's chairman, and Jack Petchey, the property investor. The two have a combined stake of about 60 per cent.
Ellis cautious as property tycoons linked with Villa
By Mihir Bose
The future of Aston Villa, the under-achieving Premiership side who offer rich pickings for any interested property speculators given the land surrounding Villa Park, could be decided later this week when Doug Ellis, the long-standing chairman, meets the consortium keen to buy the Midlands club.
Ellis has already met Michael Neville, a Solihull-based businessman who is acting for the consortium which comprises of Irish property entrepreneurs Luke and Brian Comer, who own the Comer Homes Group.
No formal offer has been tabled but in his talks with Ellis, Neville has spoken of an offer of £5.60 per share which would value the club at £64 million and give Ellis a huge profit of more than £20 million.
Ellis, who rejected an offer worth half that from Richard Thompson, the former owner of Queens Park Rangers and Leeds, was treating the offer cautiously yesterday.
In their second statement to the Stock Exchange in three weeks, the club board said: "The directors of Aston Villa plc have noted the weekend press comment and confirm that they have received a preliminary approach from Michael Neville on behalf of a consortium group which could lead to an offer for the company. However, the board have not met with any other members of the consortium nor received any confirmation of the availability of sufficient funding to support any potential offer and so they can only treat the approach as speculative at this stage."
However, this speculation may become reality when Ellis meets the leading members of the consortium later this week. Ellis, 81, who underwent triple heart-bypass surgery in the summer, may stay on in a non-executive role but the proposed offer could end his 23-year reign as Villa supremo. As Ellis owns 39 per cent of the shares and Jack Petchey, the former director of West Ham and owner of Watford, owns 12 per cent, the consortium are expected to succeed only if the pair agree to sell.
The Comers have no known association with football, although they are big fans of the Gaelic game. Despite their Irish backgrounds the Comers do not have any links with David O'Leary, the Villa manager.
Villa fans, however, will be hoping that any potential new owners will inject money into the team who, despite a summer spending spree, are fifth from bottom of the Premiership with only two wins from 10 games.
Villa confirm approach from Irish group over £64m takeover
By Phil Shaw
Independent: 01 November 2005
After 24 hours of rumour, speculation and mounting excitement among disgruntled supporters that the end of the Doug Ellis era may be imminent, Aston Villa yesterday confirmed they had received a "preliminary approach" from a consortium that is ready to pay £64.4m for control of the Premiership club.
The group of potential purchasers is headed by the brothers Brian and Luke Comer, owners of the Irish property company Comer Homes Group. They have assets worth £1bn, from which they are reportedly prepared to finance an attempt to restore Villa to their former pre-eminence. But reports that they have already done a deal with Ellis and the club's other major shareholder, Jack Petchey, are premature.
Villa admitted in a morning statement to the Stock Exchange that there had been contact between the club and the consortium. The group was put together by an Aston-born, Solihull-based businessman and lifelong Villa follower, 51-year-old Michael Neville, and contains two other businessmen, one a South African.
However, the club cautioned that the proposals - under which the 82-year-old Ellis and Petchey would sell their combined stake of 58 per cent at £5.60 per share - were still at a speculative stage.
Villa's statement read: "The directors of Aston Villa plc have noted the weekend press comment and confirm that they have received a preliminary approach from Mr Michael Neville on behalf of a consortium group, which could lead to an offer for the company.
"However, the board have not met with any other members of the consortium group, nor received any confirmation of the availability of sufficient funding to support any potential offer. So they can only treat the approach as speculative at this stage. Your board will continue to look at maximising shareholder value, and also ensuring that the club is sufficiently funded for the future."
Under the terms of the takeover, which would effectively see Comer become Villa's parent company, the club would be guaranteed 20 per cent of Comer's annual profits from property development. The money available could elevate Villa from middling competitors in the transfer market to being rivals to Manchester United, Arsenal and Liverpool, if not Chelsea and their seemingly unlimited resources.
Ellis, who has previously rebuffed approaches from a consortium fronted by the former Birmingham City and Manchester City defender Ray Ranson and from groups of Russian and Venezuelan businessmen respectively, previously maintained that the only way he would leave Villa Park would be in a box.
But the Comer offer - which may include a non-executive boardroom role for him - allows Ellis both to realise a good price for the club and to be able to claim that he has safeguarded its future.
There has been an initial surge of exhilaration among supporters, many of whom have protested against what they perceive as Ellis' ultra-cautious, even parsimonious leadership of a club that lifted the European Cup barely two decades ago. One critic of the Ellis regime, Jonathan Fear of the pressure group Villa Fans Combined, complained of an "air of stagnation" at Villa Park and expected stay-away supporters to "come flocking back" if the deal went ahead.
Meanwhile, the focus turned on Villa's would-be owners yesterday. Neither Luke Comer, 47, nor his brother Brian, 45, is known to have any previous affinity with the Birmingham club, lifelong or otherwise. Both, though, are keen sportsmen. Luke trained Cachel Bay, the horse that came in last in the Derby in 2001. Brian is an enthusiastic golfer and bought a house on a course in Hertfordshire, the county where Luke also has a home.
There is no suggestion that the brothers harbour thoughts of replacing their compatriot David O'Leary as manager. O'Leary became accustomed to lavish spending at Leeds United under the chairmanship of Peter Ridsdale, but he has been forced to recruit more modestly since arriving at Villa two and a half years ago.
Comer brothers built up fortune from run-down properties
Luke and Brian Comer, the multimillionaire Irish brothers who are providing the financial muscle to the proposed takeover of Aston Villa, have amassed their considerable fortunes via their property business.
After starting out in the trade as plasterers in their native County Galway, they moved to England and founded Comer Homes 15 years ago. The company now has assets estimated at £1bn.
Neither Luke, 47, nor Brian, 45, have any known affiliation to Villa, a spokeswoman for Comer Homes said yesterday, although Luke's long-term involvement in horse racing - as an owner, trainer and stud owner - gives him a shared interest with Villa's chairman, Doug Ellis.
Luke owns several racehorses and a stud farm in Dunboyne, County Meath. The most high-profile event in his training career was the 2001 Epsom Derby, when his horse, Cashel Bay, a 300-1 shot, finished 12th.
The brothers spend much of their time in England. Brian owns a golf course, where he lives, at Forest Hills, Hertfordshire. Luke lives in the same area.
Their spokeswoman declined to comment on their personal wealth and said no statement regarding Villa is expected until later in the week. The brothers' have a proven track record in transforming old institutions, in a literal sense at least. Many of their building projects have involved buying old, run-down buildings and transforming them into luxury apartment and business complexes, mostly in London, with their flats selling for up to £1m each. A 500-home development is under way at a former naval accommodation block in Weymouth, where property prices will boom because the town will be the Olympic sailing centre in 2012.
Luke made headlines in Ireland last week when his daughter, Sandra, 24, who had been receiving treatment in South Africa for alcoholism, made contact after going missing for two months.
Villa react coolly to £64m takeover bid but will talk to all Comers
Tuesday November 1, 2005
Aston Villa yesterday issued a lukewarm response to reports linking the property developers, Brian and Luke Comer, with a £64.4m bid for the club. Villa confirmed that there had been talks with a representative for the brothers but cast significant doubt on a deal being finalised.
"The directors of Aston Villa plc confirm that they have received a preliminary approach from Mr Michael Neville on behalf of a consortium group which could lead to an offer for the company," said the club's statement to the Stock Exchange. "However, the board have not met with any other members of the consortium group nor received any confirmation of the availability of sufficient funding to support any potential offer and so they can only treat the approach as speculative at this stage."
The reported offer values the club's equity at 560p per share, almost 150p more than the football financier Ray Ranson offered earlier this year in a bid that valued Villa at around £48m. However, few fans will be concerned with what the major shareholders, Doug Ellis and Jack Petchey, will earn from the deal.
The board insisted it would work to guarantee that the club's financial future would be secure under any takeover. "Your board will continue to look at maximising shareholder value and also ensuring that the club is sufficiently funded for the future," the statement added.
It is understood that further meetings between Villa directors and the consortium are scheduled for later in the week, but a spokeswoman for the Comers was giving nothing away yesterday and said: "We are not at liberty to comment. We can't deny or confirm anything. If we put a statement out it will be in the later part of the week, on Thursday or Friday."
Neville, a mergers and acquisitions specialist with directorships in the broadcasting industry, was equally circumspect, citing Stock Exchange rules. Even so, the 49-year-old did proffer his credentials, saying: "I am a lifelong Villa fan and have been since I was about nine years old. I'm a local businessman, I grew up in Erdington and live here [in Solihull] now. Other than that I have no comment to make."
Though the consortium's motives are unclear, it is known that Villa own around 40 acres of real estate in the Birmingham area beyond the 60 acres of land occupied by the stadium and Bodymoor Heath training ground. This would offer the bidders leverage for their approach, although their financing method remains equally opaque. A report on Sunday suggested there were two overseas businessmen also willing to underwrite part of the bid but suggestions that Comer Homes Group has assets of £1bn appear to be erroneous.
The Comers share directorships in 28 companies with their interests, principally property development and letting firms, worth a net £25m to their shareholders. The brothers began as plasterers but were pioneers of the luxury apartment market and are no strangers to major investments, having acquired a site in Weymouth for £30m three years ago.
"It is important we don't just assume anything is better than Doug Ellis," said Dave Woodhall of the Heroes and Villans fanzine. "A takeover of the club is only good for Villa if it takes the club forward. Sometimes you have got to be careful what you wish for."
Alright very_ruud you can stop posting stories....no one cares
As he said....
Separate names with a comma.