The US investment firm that backs Chelsea Football Club’s preferred bidder has provided assurances over the identities of its underlying investors as it seeks swift approval for the world’s richest takeover deal. sport.
Sky News understands that Clearlake Capital has informed the Premier League and the Raine Group, which is handling the sale process on behalf of owner Roman Abramovich, that it has no Russian sponsors – a technical name for investors – in any of its funds.
Clearlake, which would provide the majority of funds to finance the takeover, also provided a guarantee that it would not invest in any Russian entity or company, according to a person involved in the process.
Sources close to the consortium, led by LA Dodgers co-owner Todd Boehly, said it had offered a total price slightly higher than the £4.25billion publicly promised by Sir Jim Ratcliffe, the chemicals magnate who tried to crash. the auction on Friday.
An insider has suggested that Sir Jim and his Ineos group should table a significantly higher offer in order to persuade Mr Abramovich and his advisers to have a chance to start negotiations on a deal.
The Premier League is said to be ‘advanced’ in its scrutiny of the Clearlake Consortium as part of its test of owners and directors, with questions now before the group regarding the final financial structure of the takeover and the precise stakes that would be held by each . investors.
Although the review remains incomplete, it is highly unlikely that the Premier League will oppose Mr Boehly’s group.
Mr Boehly’s bid would see the voting rights split equally between him and California-based Clearlake.
Clearlake, who has no direct ownership pedigree in major sporting assets, is believed to own the majority of Chelsea shares, Sky News revealed last week.
Other members of the consortium include Hansjorg Wyss, a Swiss billionaire, and Mark Walter, one of the other shareholders in Mr. Boehly’s LA Dodgers.
Clearlake-Boehly’s offer has until the end of this week to finalize the terms of a takeover, with the other shortlisted consortia being asked to remain on hold in case a deal cannot be finalized.
The preferred bidder is advised by Goldman Sachs and Robey Warshaw, where former Chancellor – and Chelsea fan – George Osborne now works as a partner.
Chelsea, who played Everton in the Premier League on Sunday afternoon, have been on sale since Mr Abramovich was sanctioned by the government in early March.
Government approval will be needed to speed up the sale in the form of a special license to be issued to ministers, with Nadine Dorries, the Culture Secretary, suggesting last week the Blues were ‘on borrowed time’.
A person familiar with the process said it was likely two separate licenses would eventually be issued by the government: one to implement the transaction itself, and another to release the proceeds of the sale.
Mr Abramovich remains determined to donate at least £2.5billion to a new foundation to benefit war victims and last week demanded that the remaining bidders for Chelsea increase their bids by at least 500 million pounds to allow £1 billion to be donated to charity on the day the deal closes.
The Russian billionaire also has a £1.54billion loan to parent Chelsea from another entity linked to it, but is no longer able to cancel that loan after being sanctioned, it has been revealed Sky News last week.
Ineos’ entry into the race to buy last season’s Champions League winners has added another layer of drama to arguably the most hotly contested auction in elite sport’s history.
Sir Jim claimed in a statement that it was “a British offer, for a British club”, although he failed to mention he had moved from the UK and now lives in Monaco.
The billionaire, who has declared his allegiance to Manchester United in the past, bid for Chelsea several years ago but publicly rejected the idea when the auction started in March, saying it was overpriced.
An insider expressed skepticism about his ability to complete transactions quickly, given that he had not had access to the due diligence documents necessary to complete a transaction.
The last three bidders have all provided detailed plans for their management of the club and the redevelopment of Stamford Bridge, with numerous property advisers engaged to work on the project.
Chelsea’s current operating license from the government expires at the end of March, with uncertainty over the club’s ownership already blamed for the departure of key players, including Germany centre-half Antonio Rudiger.
By winning preferred bidder status, the Boehly-Clearlake Group has pledged not to sell a majority stake in Chelsea for at least a decade.
This guarantee, which is seen as unprecedented at a football club auction, has been combined with another for a minimum additional investment of £1billion in its stadium, academy and women’s team.
Raine’s demands highlight the unusual nature of Chelsea’s sale process at a time when the ownership of English football clubs is under intense scrutiny and unprecedented government intervention.
Last week ministers published their response to former sports minister Tracey Crouch’s report on football governance, paving the way for the creation of a new independent regulator for sport.
Mr Abramovich has owned Chelsea since 2003 and has made the club one of the best teams in Europe, winning 19 major trophies under his watch.
The two defeated consortia were led by Steve Pagliuca, co-owner of the Boston Celtics, and Larry Tanenbaum, NBA president and owner of the Toronto Maple Leafs; and Sir Martin Broughton, the former chairman of British Airways and Liverpool FC, who reportedly involved Harris Blitzer Sports & Entertainment – owner of a stake in Crystal Palace and a string of US sports teams – holding a majority stake.
A UK-based spokesperson for the Clearlake-Boehly consortium declined to comment, while their US colleagues did not respond to requests for comment.
Neither Raine nor the Premier League would comment on Sunday.