Southampton confirm £100m takeover deal with Serbian businessman

Southampton have confirmed that a deal believed to be worth £100m has been agreed with Serbian-born businessman Dragan Solak and investment firm Sport Republic for an 80 per cent stake in the club.

Majority shareholder Gao Jisheng has sold his stake in the Saints to Solak after the two parties entered negotiations over a possible deal last month.

In a statement, Solak said: “My partners and I have experience in long-term investments in the sports and entertainment industry and Sport Republic has been founded to combine this expertise and deliver something unique to the market. Southampton has so many of the qualities we have been looking for in a major sports organisation.

"It has a great management team, excellent talent development, talented teams playing attractive football and a dedicated fan base. We are delighted to be able to complete this acquisition as a first step towards execution of our investment strategy. Southampton will be a cornerstone of the organisation we plan to build.”

Southampton CEO Martin Semmens said: “Over the last two years, together with the shareholders of our club, we have searched for the right partner to take the club forward. Today we have found the perfect solution for our club.

“Sport Republic are experienced investors, but also experienced within the world of elite professional sports. That combination is very hard to find, and we are thrilled to have reached an agreement that secures our short and long-term future.

“We are grateful for the support of Mr Gao and [minority shareholder] Katharina Liebherr that allowed us to take our time, turn away the wrong options and ultimately find the right partner for the future of this great club, its fans, staff and the people of Southampton."

Sky News reported earlier on Tuesday that former Brentford co-director of football Rasmus Ankersen, and Henrik Kraft, a London-based investor, are also involved in the takeover.

Southampton are currently 14th in the Premier League table, sitting comfortably clear of the relegation zone while struggling to find any real consistency with results, and are currently in their tenth consecutive season in the top flight.

The takeover follows a spate of recent investments into Premier League clubs, following deals involving West Ham and Newcastle.

High-flying West Ham, who currently sit just outside the Premier League's top four, welcomed a significant cash injection from Czech billionaire Daniel Kretinsky in November - a deal that includes the option of a full takeover in the future and values the club at close to £700m.

Newcastle, meanwhile, were the subject of a full takeover from Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund, and are now preparing to significantly strengthen their squad in the January transfer window in an attempt to steer clear of relegation trouble.

Source : 90min