Lerner completes Villa takeover


US billionaire Randy Lerner has told shareholders in Aston Villa that he intends to buy out all remaining shares in the club, completing his takeover at Upton Park.

After slowly building up his stake in the club during the last two months the 44-year-old owner of NFL team Cleveland Browns has succeeded in securing 90 per cent of the club's shares, giving him the legal power to complete the takeover outright and bring Villa back into private ownership.

Reform Acquisitions, Lerner's takeover company, said in a statement this morning that it had "now received valid acceptances of the offer in respect of more than 90 per cent of the Aston Villa shares to which the offer relates".

"Accordingly, Reform Acquisitions has today issued notices… to those Aston Villa shareholders who have not already accepted the offer, informing them that it now intends to exercise its rights to acquire compulsorily all the Aston Villa shares outstanding at the expiry of the requisite notice period."

Lerner had last week assumed control of Villa, taking over as chairman of the club following the resignation of long-time boss Doug Ellis.

His installation as new Villa Park supremo has been a far-from-certain one, with scrutiny from stock exchange watchdogs and popularity among the Villa fan base always a concern.

Fortunately the latter have welcomed Lerner to the club in open arms, thanks in part to the team's unbeaten run under new manager Martin O'Neill in the first six matches of the new Premiership season.

Lerner, who has described his takeover as an "opportunity to make a little bit of a difference", is expected to appoint a chief executive at the club to oversee its everyday business.

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