Hall sells Newcastle shares

23-05-2007

Hall sells Newcastle shares
The majority shareholder of Newcastle United, Sir John Hall, has sold his shares in the football club to businessman Mike Ashley.

Sir John, who has been associated with the Magpies for two decades, said it is now "time to move on and let others take up the challenge of competing in the global market place".

Nevertheless he will remain connected with the club in his new role as honourary life president.

Ashley, a billionaire retail and sporting goods entrepreneur, is a major player in UK markets and owns or has shares in several high street names, including Sports World and the Original Shoe Company as well as brand names such as Dunlop Slazenger, Lonsdale and Donnay.

He has purchased Sir John's complete Newcastle portfolio, which represents a 41.6 per cent holding of the club's shares, and has also made an offer to purchase all remaining shares.

"I am delighted to have this opportunity to invest in Newcastle United," Ashley said.

"The club has a fantastic infrastructure, for which Sir John and the board must take much of the credit.

"Newcastle United has a wonderful heritage and the passion of its fans is legendary. I am sure that, like me, they are already excited about the prospects for next season under the new manager's stewardship."

Speaking after the announcement, Sir John Hall said: "Mike Ashley is a major player in the sporting world and I am convinced that he is the right person to take my place and take the club forward.

"I am sure he will be good for the club and its loyal fans and indeed for the region. I wish him the very best and hope he enjoys it as much as I have."

Sir John also thanked the Newcastle United supporters for their support during his time at the club before asking them to lend "the same level of support to Mike".

"He has my full backing," Sir John added.

Ashley's offer to shareholders values the club at £133 million.


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