Wed, Oct 10, 2012 - Page 18 News List

Potential buyers eye Birmingham

Reuters, HONG KONG and LONDON

Birmingham City have become the latest second-flight English soccer team to attract potential buyers, the club’s Hong Kong-based parent company said yesterday.

No binding agreements have been entered into on the sale of the club, and discussions were still at an early stage, Birmingham International said in a statement posted on the Hong Kong bourse.

“The company has been approached by two prospective buyers to explore the possibility of buying Birmingham City FC,” chief executive Peter Pannu said in the statement, without detailing any value to the potential sale.

Both parties have signed confidentiality agreements with Birmingham.

British media reported last week that Gianni Paladini, an Italian who is the former chairman of English club Queens Park Rangers, was leading a consortium trying to buy the club.

Trading in the company’s shares has been suspended since June last year, when its largest shareholder Carson Yeung was arrested on five counts of alleged money laundering of more than HK$720 million (US$92 million).

Birmingham play in the English Championship, the level below the wealthy Premier League, having been relegated last year. They have made a poor start to the season and are currently 21st in the 24-team league.

Yeung has to apply for court approval to travel to Britain as he is barred from leaving Hong Kong while his case is being heard. He owns about a quarter of Birmingham International, which had a market value of HK$550 million before its trading suspension, according to Thomson Reuters data.

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