Newcastle is currently 14th in the elite 20-team Premier League, sitting seven points above the relegation zone/iStockby Bloomberg
A Saudi Arabia-led investor group is in talks to acquire Newcastle United, the Premier League soccer team owned by British billionaire Mike Ashley, for around GBP 340 million ($445 million).
Ashley has been struggling to offload the team in recent years and it was unclear whether he would accept the offer. Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s key investment vehicle, along with a group of investors led by British financier Amanda Staveley were making the offer.
Newcastle, now coached by Steve Bruce, is currently 14th in the elite 20-team Premier League, sitting seven points above the relegation zone. Newcastle in the far northeastern part of England is one of the country’s biggest cities.
Ashley was reported to have tried to sell the club at the end of 2018 by Sky, and Staveley’s financial firm PCP Capital Partners was said by the BBC to have made an offer of GBP 300 million for Newcastle after about a month of talks in November 2017. Ashley was seeking about 400 million pounds at the time.
The billionaire had previously tried to sell the club in the autumn of 2008 and the Financial Times reported at the time that the field narrowed to two US-based bidders from seven. There were further reports of talks with at least four groups in the summer of 2009, including interest from a group of Malaysian businessmen.
Other buyers of large UK soccer clubs have included Chinese companies, which own West Bromwich Albion and Southampton. In 2018, Egyptian billionaire Nassef Sawiris and Fortress Investment Group co-founder Wes Edens agreed to buy a majority stake in Aston Villa.