Billionaire businessman emerges as ‘front-runner’ to buy NUFC after stating his intentions for the club

A story in the Evening Standard has broken in the last few moments, with claims that Turkey’s richest man Murat Ulker has emerged as a ‘front-runner’ to buy Newcastle United from Mike Ashley.

Ulker is worth almost £3bn, owning Turkish-based European food empires and a host of household brands including McVitie’s, Penguins and Jaffa Cakes.

The story claims he is ready to pay around £220m for the club and offer Rafa Benitez £60m to spend.

This is the first concrete link to the club since news broke yesterday that the club was officially up for sale, and although stories such as these are to be expected, it is significant that a representative of his has confirmed their interest and intentions with NUFC already:

“The Ülker family have substantial assets and significant investments already in the UK.

“We understand football and our initial specific target would be to make Newcastle a solid top six club and a permanent feature in Europe with a popular local and worldwide following.”

The report in the Evening Standard revealed the following:



Turkey’s richest man, billionaire biscuits king Murat Ülker, has emerged as a front-runner to buy Newcastle United from owner Mike Ashley, the Evening Standard can reveal.

Ülker is the chairman of Yildiz Holdings, the Turkish-based European food empire which boasts 56,000 staff and owns a host of household brands including McVitie’s, Penguins and Jaffa Cakes. Sources say he is ready to pay around £220 million.

Sports Direct founder Ashley, who has owned Newcastle for a decade, formally put the club up for sale yesterday with hopes of a sale by Christmas. But Ülker and other possible buyers have been tracking the club for months.

Ülker, who is worth some $3.7 billion (£2.8 billion) according to Forbes, will become the first Turkish owner of a top-flight football club if successful.

He faces opposition from financier Amanda Staveley, who was recently pictured at Newcastle and whose PCP Capital Partners controls billions in Middle East wealth. Chinese investors are also reported to have shown interest.

Tom McLoughlin, the Ülker family’s representative in London who has brokered a number of deals involving football clubs, said: “The Ülker family have substantial assets and significant investments already in the UK.

“We understand football and our initial specific target would be to make Newcastle a solid top six club and a permanent feature in Europe with a popular local and worldwide following.”

The Turk is ready to back coach Rafa Benitez with up to £60 million to invest in new players.

Ülker’s team of advisers include accountants PwC and international law firm Charles Russell Speechlys.

His representatives have been talking to Ashley’s advisers since early this year although hurdles included HMRC’s tax raids on Newcastle United and West Ham in April, involving nearly 200 officers in England and France. These prompted another round of haggling over the price. Ashley also briefly considered selling a significant minority stake in the club, which Ülker refused.

The sale will end Ashley’s often-turbulent reign at the club he bought for £134 million in 2007, which has seen two relegations and nine managers over an often chaotic decade. Ülker is also said to be impressed by the infrastructure of Newcastle United, whose 52,000-capacity St James’ Park stadium is the seventh-largest in England.

He will join an international roster of billionaires in the Premier League including Chelsea’s Russian owner Roman Abramovich.

Newcastle United declined to comment.

 

Some key points to take from this:

  • Is £220m going to be enough?! Ashley may have to reduce his alleged £350m asking price, but I very much doubt he’d drop to this fee?
  • His representative states that they ‘understand football’ and would aim to make Newcastle a ‘solid top six club’ and ‘permanent feature in Europe’ with a ‘popular local and worldwide following.’
  • The report states he is ‘ready to back coach Rafa Benitez with up to £60 million to invest in new players’. Is this with January in mind or in the long term. If it was the latter then it is not nearly enough in this day and age.
  • It confirms his representatives have been talking to Ashley’s advisers since early in the year – claiming Ulker refused to buy a minority stake in the club and has instead haggled over a price for a full takeover.
  • He is believed to face competition from Amanda Staveley and Chinese investors.

Pinch of salt alert for now, but an interesting development non the less.

(Fancy writing for us? Send any articles/ideas over to us at [email protected] & we’ll get back to you!)

About Olly Hawkins

Born in Gateshead, Olly was a Junior Magpie from birth. As a season ticket holder and avid Newcastle United fan - he eats, sleeps and breathes all things NUFC.

One thought on “Billionaire businessman emerges as ‘front-runner’ to buy NUFC after stating his intentions for the club

  1. The price is right ?
    I doubt it, Ashley is a tough bargainer, plus is this guy offering an additional 60M.
    in transfer funds, is he any wealthier than Ashley FFS!
    Nah ! we need an owner that can compete monetwise, not another piker.

      (Quote)

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