The Business Times

Score is 3-0 against Peter Lim

Dream of owning a football club is dashed again as Bankia rejects his Valencia bid

Angela Tan
Published Fri, Jan 24, 2014 · 10:00 PM
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SINGAPORE billionaire Peter Lim's dream of owning a league club was dashed for the third time after Bankia, the principle creditor and de facto owner of Spanish football club Valencia, rejected his takeover bid.

Spanish sports daily said that Mr Lim's offer was deemed ''invalid'' as the tycoon did not subsequently provide any documentation which fulfilled any of the 14 due diligence requirements listed by Bankia's adviser and consulting firm KPMG.

However, a spokesman for Mr Lim yesterday clarified that Mr Lim did not submit any documents because he was not a participant in the process relating to an acquisition and financial restructuring of the credits granted by Bankia to Valencia and the Foundation which is currently being conducted by Bankia. The foundation has a controlling stake of about 70 per cent in the club, but the latter owes Bankia more than 200 million euros (S$350 million).

''Peter Lim's interest in Valencia is not financial and he has never expressed any interest in the acquisition of credits. He had presented an offer to all the parties involved (including Bankia) on Dec 10, 2013. The offer was premised upon the acquisition of the shares in Valencia FC held by the Valencia Foundation and aimed at a global project for the club. In Peter's view, such a project cannot be implemented without the involvement of the controlling shareholder and the management of the club,'' Mr Lim's spokesman said.

''The offer, if accepted, would have put the Club on a sound platform for future growth,'' the spokesman added.

This would be the third time Mr Lim has failed to buy over a league club, having previously lost out in his takeover of England's Liverpool FC and Spain's Atletico Madrid.

The rejection came as no surprise to market observers, given the large investment in the financially-strapped club and a sale which comes with political implications and vested interests of the various parties involved.

Mr Lim, worth around US$2 billion, had submitted his offer on Dec 10, 2013 at Bankia's headquarters in Valencia, just hours before the General Shareholder's Meeting. But on Jan 15, Bankia revealed it had received ''multiple bids'' that were more attractive than his.

His offer had been supported by the club's president, Amadeo Salvo. His bid included 90 million euro in shares, 120 million euro to pay off the Bankia loan and a promise to invest 40 million euro in new players during the winter transfer window. The latter was bumped up to 50 million euro earlier this month.

It was also reported that Mr Lim's offer included the significant sums the club owe for the building of the Nou Mestalla stadium - the 250-300 million euro white elephant that has dogged Valencia since its construction began in 2007.

Investors that have been accepted by Bankia would go through to the second phase of the operation ''to find a comprehensive solution''. The bank together with KPMG will then narrow down the final candidates until the final bid is accepted and the new owner of the club unveiled.

Valencia has struggled with its finances amid a six-year real-estate slump that has roiled its plans to sell its Mestalla stadium and complete a new arena.

Earlier media reports had speculated rival investors included American private equity investment firm TPG Capital and Qatar Investment Authority (QIA).

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