Iranian billionaire to take large stake in Everton - club
REUTERS - Everton's decade-long search for new investment has borne fruit with British-Iranian billionaire Farhad Moshiri set to take a 49.9 percent stake subject to Premier League approval, the Merseyside club said on Saturday.
Everton were in talks over a 200 million pounds ($277.46 million) sale of the club to an American consortium led by ex-San Diego Padres owner John Jay Moores and fellow entrepreneur Charles Noell but Moshiri has stolen a march on them.
His close relationship with Everton's chairman Bill Kenwright and willingness to allow the 70-year-old to remain in a position of power at the club, at least in the near term, was a factor in clinching the deal, according to British media.
“After an exhaustive search I believe we have found the perfect partner to take the club forward," Kenwright said on Everton's official website.
Kenwright, a leading film and theatre producer, has been looking for major investment to take the club forward for more than a decade, having bought a controlling stake in Everton from Peter Johnson for 20 million pounds in December, 1999.
"I have got to know Farhad well over the last 18 months and his football knowledge, financial wherewithal and True Blue spirit have convinced me that he is the right man to support Everton,” added Kenwright.
Moshiri has promised new investment in the club who have won the English title nine times and the FA Cup on five occasions, albeit not since 1995 when they last lifted a major trophy.
Forbes estimates Moshiri's personal wealth at about 1.3 billion pounds and that will have increased after he sold his Arsenal shares on Friday to Red and White Holdings partner Alisher Usmanov, the London club's second-largest shareholder.
"I am delighted to take this opportunity to become a shareholder in Everton, with its rich heritage as one of Europe's leading football clubs," Moshiri, 60, said in the statement on the club website.
"There has never been a more level playing field in the Premier League than now," he added with Everton in 12th place, three places and three points behind local rivals Liverpool.
"Bill Kenwright has taught me what it means to be an Evertonian and I look forward with excitement to working with him to help deliver success for Everton in the future."
($1 = 0.7208 pounds)
(Writing by Ken Ferris, editing by Ed Osmond)