Banking/Football
2015: No.4 - £950m
2014: No.3 - £1bn

This may well be the last time Randy Lerner appears in the Birmingham Post Rich List. In May he announced that Aston Villa , which he bought nearly eight years ago, was up for sale.

After a couple of disappointing seasons and a less-than-inspiring performance so far this season, he has engaged Bank of America Merrill Lynch to advise on the sale. An asking price of between £150 million and £200 million is rumoured to be the price. US-based billionaires would appear to be among the favourites to buy the club.

Having said that, Randy Lerner announced at the beginning of the season that the sale plans would go on the back burner while he concentrated on what was happening on the pitch. The big close season signing – apart from Joe Cole – was Manchester United and Ireland star Roy Keane as assistant to Paul Lambert.

At the start of the season it looked as if the Keane magic was working with some impressive results. But then the team began its relegation bid earlier than usual and quickly plunged down the table, and the Roy Keane experiment came to an end. Randy Lerner will be looking for some better results and a sniff of some silverware if he is to get top dollar for the club.

Despite looking to sell, he continues to put his hand in his own pocket to ensure the club gets the cash. A year ago he waived £90.1 million of loans to reduce the club’s debt load. These loans were converted to equity.

Overall losses at Villa Park continue to widen. In the year 2012/13 the club lost £52 million after tax, as it failed to repeat previous profits on player sales. Turnover was up £3.3 million to £83.7 million driven by higher than average attendances and a semi-final place in the Capital One Cup. The club is financially self-sufficient and has reduced its operating costs.

Aston Villa chief executive Paul Faulkner – a longstanding friend and business associate of Randy Lerner – stepped down from the role in July.

Randy Lerner pocketed around £620 million from the sale of American football team the Cleveland Browns to US businessman Jimmy Haslam in 2012.

He certainly can’t be accused of not being committed to Aston Villa – nor has he loaded it with debt as some overseas football club owners have done. He has a Villa logo tattooed on his ankle and continues to pour money into the club and its facilities. On top of paying £62 million for the club nearly eight years ago, he has invested heavily in equity and loans and has underwritten the club’s losses.

Although an American citizen, Brooklyn-born Randy Lerner makes it into our list not just as the owner of Aston Villa, but as a resident of the region, even if it is part time. He owns a converted £2.5 million farmhouse in Bodymoor Heath, close to Villa’s training ground. His other home is in Amagansett, New York, where he owns a restaurant and a shopping mall.

As well as a lover of football, he is an enthusiast for the arts, a fact underlined by his patronage of the National Portrait gallery with a gift of £5 million – the gallery’s biggest single gift. In acknowledgement of his generosity, the ground floor galleries have been renamed The Lerner Galleries. He has also donated cash to Clare College, Cambridge, where he spent a year studying in 1983, to provide new residential accommodation for students. It has been named Lerner Court.

Randy Lerner, who is 52, inherited control of the Cleveland Browns in 2002 from his father Al Lerner when he died. Under the terms of the sale of the Browns, he retains 30 per cent for four years. He graduated from Columbia Law School and is a member of the New York and District of Columbia Bar Association. He worked as a lawyer in New York before entering the business world .

His business career began at the Progressive Corporation where he was an investment analyst. In 1991 he started an independent investment firm called Securities Advisors Inc, which he owned and managed until 2001. In 1993 he became a director at MBNA, of which his father was a founder. He became chairman of MBNA in 2002, selling the family’s interests three years later to Bank of America for more than £1.2 billion. The family’s investment in Bank of America, which has been posting losses and seeing shares slide, has fluctuated.

He was divorced from his wife Lara in 2011 and has four children .