Reform Acquisitions Ltd, a group led by US tycoon Randy Lerner, said yesterday it had made an agreed ?62.6 million (US$118.7 million) cash bid for English Premier League soccer club Aston Villa.
Lerner's group offered ?5.47 per Aston Villa share, the principals announced to the London Stock Exchange. That represents a premium of about 47 percent over the closing price on Sept. 16 last year, the last day before the beginning of the offer period.
"It is my belief and the basis for my bid to acquire Aston Villa Football Club that it can compete at the highest level within the Premiership and in Europe," Lerner said.
Lerner, former chairman of credit card giant MBNA, would be the second US National Football League owner to buy a Premier League club.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers owner Malcolm Glazer purchased Manchester United last year, sparking protests by fans worried Glazer would be more devoted to making money than to winning.
The board of Aston Villa recommended the transaction to shareholders, and said owners of 56.85 percent of shares had already committed to the deal.
Villa chairman Doug Ellis, who has owned the club since 1982 and has a 39 percent stake, put the club up for sale a year ago.
"It has been my sincere pleasure to have been involved with Aston Villa these many years, both as chairman and as a substantial shareholder," Ellis said. "The club has been an enormous and immensely enjoyable part of my life."
Ellis, who first took charge from 1968-1975 before returning seven years later, earned the nickname "Deadly Doug" for his reputation for sacking managers. He worked with 14 managers during his time and two weeks ago appointed Martin O'Neill as manager.