Birmingham City’s Premier League preparations were overshadowed by remarkable developments yesterday as the name Carson Yeung was once again linked to St Andrew’s.
Two years after the Hong Kong businessman’s takeover plans ended in a farce, the club’s single largest shareholder, with a 29.9 per cent stake, is now preparing a fresh attempt to take over Birmingham.
Following intense morning speculation, the Blues’ hierarchy, who have denied Yeung a place on the board following the 2007 debacle, issued a statement to the Stock Exchange confirming that the previously-silent partner had made an approach with the view to buy out the club, in a deal said to be worth £70 million.
Yeung is once again looking to use his clothing firm, Grandtop International Holdings Limited, as a takeover vehicle.
The club statement read: “The board of Birmingham notes the recent press speculation and confirms that it has received an approach from Grandtop International Holdings Limited which may or may not lead to an offer for the entire issued share capital of the company.
“Grandtop is currently a 29.9 per cent shareholder, having acquired this holding in 2007.
“As shareholders will be aware, 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 shareholders will be made when appropriate.”
It comes as no surprise that the Birmingham board are taking a cautious approach on this occasion having previously had their fingers burned two years ago when Yeung failed to raise the required amount, £20 million less than the current £70 million price tag being suggested.
The uncertainty last time around contributed to Steve Bruce’s departure to Wigan Athletic and may well have inadvertently sent the club on its way to relegation from the Premier League.
It still remains a mystery as to how exactly Yeung plans to find the financial backing to complete a takeover. Despite seeing Grandtop’s stock price gain more than double since last year, it is still believed to be inadequate for a buyout.
However, the current Birmingham board are believed to be willing to end their 16-year reign at St Andrew’s should Yeung find the investment.
The club’s supporters will surely be weary of the timing of these latest developments. Birmingham begin their 2009/10 Premier League campaign with a daunting trip to reigning champions Manchester United in just three days time. Manager Alex McLeish is also still desperately attempting to bring in last-minute reinforcements and it remains to be seen whether the recent revelations will have any impact on his spending wishes.