There’s news today of a multi-billionaire who has remained in the running to buy Newcastle United.
But the Arab billionaire is not really a new bidder, since we reported back on 18th September that Nasser Al-Kharafi, 65, was initially interested in buying Newcastle United.
As the world’s 48th richest man in the most recent Forbes Billionaires List, and the 4th richest Arab, and worth around $14B (around £8.2B), the 65-year-old Kharafi is Chairman of Al Kharafi & Sons. Nasser Al Kharafi puts fast food on plates across the entire Middle East, and his company controls the exclusive Arab franchises for KFC, Wimpy, TGI Fridays, Cadbury’s, Pizza Hut and Saint Cinnamon.
The family also owns a lucrative 30% stake in Atheer Telecom, which owns a mobile license for Southern Iraq, and in early October he purchased more shares in Mobile Telecommunications Corporation (Zain), through one of its units.
But let’s say that we don’t know if this story has any truth in it, but it’s making the rounds a second time, so maybe there is some truth in it after all.
Sources in the Middle East have confirmed Al-Kharafi’s bid team has received the four-page document for buyers, which was prepared by the Newcastle United club and investment bank Seymour Pierce.
The source says that Al-Kharafi was interested last month when Newcastle were first put up for sale and still remains interested:
“He cannot comment on any deal because he has signed the confidentiality agreements which bind all interested parties. But he has the money to make it work.”
Back in September after Ashley’s failed trip to the Middle East, an intermediary for Al-Kharafi had said:
“Nasser Al Kharafi has the money to buy the club, but the way Mike Ashley is going about things is wrong. He is actually putting off any interested buyers with the price and his refusal to negotiate. If he genuinely wants to sell he is going about it the wrong way.”
“At the last estimate Nasser was worth around $12B (about £7B), but he still won’t pay over the odds for the club. Mr. Ashley seems to think he can ask what he wants because he is dealing with people who are multi-billionaires, but that simply isn’t the case. As things stand he will be returning to England without a buyer.”
The only difference seems to be he is now the 46th richest person in the world, and worth $2B more than he was then – but what’s a couple of billion between friends?
We think Al-Kharafi could be a serious buyer, since the two statements are at least consistent, and nobody seems to have denied this one. But every one that is true, we’ll probabaly get five that are not, so we have to be careful with some of these stories.
But if there’s truth to this one, that has to be good news.