Investors eye Sir John's Toon shares

24-08-2006

Sir John Hall's majority stake in Newcastle United could be bought out by private investors after the club's Board admitted he was receiving "expressions of interest" from potential buyers.

Reports suggest that Sir John, who retained his large share in the club after retiring as its chairman in 1997, is seriously considering the offer to divulge himself of his official interest in Newcastle.

Newcastle United issued a confirmation earlier this morning after reports over the weekend speculated that US hedge fund Polygon and Swiss investment bank UBS had been preparing an offer for months prior to approaching Sir John.

"The board of Newcastle United notes recent press speculation and confirms that it has today been informed by Sir John Hall representing Wynyard (Guernsey) Limited, which owns approximately 28.8 per cent of Newcastle United, that it has received expressions of interest to acquire its shareholding, which may or may not lead to the disposal of its stake," its statement read.

It is unclear whether an offer has yet been tabled by the Polygon-UBS alliance, although Sir John is likely to welcome the attention. He engaged in strenuous talks over his shares last year but pulled out because his suitors could not offer a sufficiently high price.

Sir John Hall, a property developer, had been responsible in the 1990s for the 'professionalisation' of rugby union and the turnaround of Newcastle United at the same time.

The club's meteoric rise under Kevin Keegan from third division relegation contenders to Premiership competitors was largely down to his efforts, leaving Sir John rewarded with a stand at St James' Park named in his honour.

If Sir John chooses to divest himself of his 28.8 per cent stake in Newcastle, his family will not be completely without influence in the club. His son, Douglas, holds around another 13 per cent of Newcastle United's shares.


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