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Blues: Yeung makes new takeover bid; Buyout would end 16 years in charge.

Byline: Colin Tattum

BIRMINGHAM City bosses today confirmed that Carson Yeung is seemingly ready to reignite his takeover bid.

A formal approach has been made by the Hong Kong businessman with a view to a pounds 70 million buyout of the club.

If successful, it would bring to an end the 16-year reign of David Sullivan, brothers David Gold and Ralph Gold, and Karren Brady.

But Blues' barbed statement to the Stock Exchange cautioned it was not a foregone conclusion Yeung would take control at St Andrew's.

Yeung's planned takeover years ago, through clothing fir Grandtop International, was abor in farcical circumstances when failed to raise the required amou of cash after initially spending million on a 29.9 per cent stak holding.

The statement read: "The boar Birmingham notes the recent pr speculation and confirms that it received an approach from Gran top International Holdings Limi which may or may not lead to offer for the entire issued share c ital of the Company.

"Grandtop is currently a 29.9 cent shareholder, having acqu this holding in 2007. "As shareholders will be aw previous approaches did not proceed and the issue of the funding of any possible offer will be a major factor in determining how the company responds to the approach. "A further announcement updating shareholderswill bemadewhen appropriate." If Yeung shows the colour of his money, I believe the board will sell - and this is the crux of the whole matter. They have, however, been here before with Yeung, and the relationship between the camps became strained after the 2007 fiasco. Blues blocked attempts by Yeung to gain a seat on the board and he in turn became a silent partner, hardly communicating with the club at all.Reportedly Yeung is said to be prepared to pay around pounds 20million more than it would have cost him last time to wrestle power.

Presumably, he has attracted suf- ficient funding in the Far East to make this fresh tilt viable. Nonetheless, Sullivan, the Golds and Brady remain cautious, and supporters are bound to be concerned that they are again going down an old road which led to nothing but chaos two years back. A source close to the board told me: "Rumours keep on surfacing about Carson Yeung's intentions, and he's been back in touch. But for the board, seeing is believing." When I contacted the directors first thing today they initially reacted with surprise and shock and declined to comment. But this wasmore to dowith being caught on the hop that the news was out and they then quickly drew up a statement addressing the issue. Blues' share price has been inching up over recent weeks before it shot 15 per cent to 46.50p today, its highest for six months. It is no secret that Sullivan and the Gold brothers, as well as managing director Brady, have become worn down in recent years.

Relegations in Blues' last two Premier League campaigns and supporter dissatisfaction have made it a rocky ride. However, it looked as if they had rekindled some of their enthusiasm after promotion from the Championship in May. A '10-point pledge' designed to win back the faithful and improve the St Andrew's ground was launched and manager Alex McLeish was given funds to bring in nine new players. Interestingly, the spending on the team has now stalled and pounds 5 million in loans, to help with player purchases and the upgrade of the ground, have now been repaid to Sullivan and the Golds. The way would also be clear for Yeung now that the City of London Police investigation into tax issues came to nothing, lifting a huge cloud that had been hovering over Sullivan and Brady. Sullivan owns 23 per cent of Blues shares, David Gold around 13 per cent and Ralph Gold 12 per cent. In July 2007, Sullivan and the Golds - David and Ralph's shareholding was then combined - sold 14 per cent of their stake to Yeung for pounds 15 million and gave him until the December to complete a takeover .

The uncertainty contributed to manager Steve Bruce's departure to Wigan Athletic in the November and McLeish was appointed as his successor. If Yeung did take charge at Blues, it would be unlikely that Sullivan, the Golds or Brady would be kept on in the long term. Sullivan and the Golds would act 'in concert' and all sell their individual shareholdings; David Gold would not join forces with Yeung, although he might be keen on an ambassadorial type role. And McLeish would naturally fear for his future as Yeung, who counts Steve McManaman as his football advisor, could want his own man in the dug out.


New bid mystery: Carson Yeung visiting St Andrew's in 2007. Face in the crowd: Carson Yeung with David Gold and David Sullivan at a Blues match in October 2007. Below left: How the Mail reported the story on June 27, 2007.
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Publication:Birmingham Mail (England)
Date:Aug 12, 2009
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