Fri, Jun 22, 2007 - Page 22 News List

City agrees terms with Thaksin

AFP , LONDON

Thailand's ousted prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra launched a bid worth £81.6 million (US$162.6 million) for English Premiership soccer club Manchester City yesterday and the club backed the terms.

The formal offer came as Thai prosecutors in Bangkok laid formal criminal corruption charges against Thaksin in the first case to reach court since a coup last year removed him from power.

The bid by Thaksin's UK Sports Investments company was backed by management at Manchester City, which finished a disappointing 14th place last season in the Premiership.

"This offer provides an exciting opportunity to take Manchester City to the next stage of our development and deliver the on-field success we have been striving for," Man City chairman John Wardle said in a joint statement.

Manchester City has become the latest English soccer team to attract interest from foreign investors.

Following the takeover of Manchester City, eight Premiership clubs will have fallen into foreign ownership - including Aston Villa, Chelsea, Fulham, Liverpool, Manchester United, Portsmouth and West Ham.

"I am delighted that the board of Manchester City has recommended my bid for the club and I look forward to continuing the excellent work of John Wardle and his team," added Thaksin Shinawatra in the statement.

"We share a determination to take the club back to its rightful place at the highest level of competition in both the FA Premier League and European football," he said.

The Man City bid, pitched at £0.40 per share, represented a premium of 77.8 percent to the closing share price on Dec. 6 last year, one day before Man City revealed it had received a takeover approach.

The offer is to be financed with £21.6 million in cash and £60 million in debt.

Noppadon Pattama, Thaksin's lawyer and spokesman in Thailand, had said last week that Thaksin still had enough money to buy Manchester City, even after Thai authorities froze US$1.5 billion of his assets over corruption claims.

Before authorities froze his assets, Thaksin had already set aside about 7 billion baht (US$210.6 million) to finance the purchase of Manchester City, Noppadon said.

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