Wednesday, 30 December 2009

Intermarket to Buy West Ham?

Daily Telegraph

David Byrne, Intermarket’s company secretary and one of its two founding directors, said an offer would be lodged at the beginning of next week. “We will be making a bid on Monday,” Byrne told The Daily Telegraph.

He added that he could not reveal any details of the offer – or his backers – as Intermarket had signed a non-disclosure agreement with Rothschild Bank, which has been engaged by West Ham’s owners, CB Holding, to canvas potential investors.

Byrne said that he expected to find out quickly whether Intermarket’s bid was acceptable to CB Holding, whose main shareholder is the Icelandic bank, Straumur.

It is understood that Intermarket values the club at around £100million. However, that includes estimating the debts at £48million — West Ham are adamant they are closer to £38million — and factoring in the costs of outstanding settlements to Sheffield United because of the Carlos Tévez affair and to former manager Alan Curbishley. In essence this means that only around £30million would go to Straumur and the other creditors.

A bid for West Ham was submitted before Christmas by former Birmingham City co-owner David Sullivan which amounted to £46million for a 50 per cent controlling stake. Under the Sullivan plan money would be committed to debt repayment and to sign new players in return for shares, but no cash would go to CB Holding, which had been hoping for an eventual return of around £50million.

Straumur insists that it is under no pressure to sell. However, it has not ruled out doing a deal with either party, or other potential bidders, though it has been annoyed by the tactics used, by the Sullivan bid in particular, to portray the club as being in meltdown and needing to sell all its star players in January.

West Ham will have to sell one of their big-name players to provide the funds for manager Gianfranco Zola to strengthen the squad in the transfer window. The most likely candidate is Matthew Upson who is 30, has 18 months left on his contract and is refusing to sign a new deal.
Upson is also keen to leave to strengthen his hopes of making England’s World Cup squad and is believed to be available for around £12million.

CB Holding has pledged that any funds raised in January through transfers will be made available to Zola in full.