Sunday 22 April 2018

Tony Fernandes poised to launch takeover bid for West Ham

Jason Burt

Malaysian entrepreneur Tony Fernandes appears poised to launch a takeover bid for West Ham United.

Fernandes, the founder and driving force behind the highly successful AirAsia airline, is a lifelong West Ham supporter and has been in sporadic talks about taking a stake in the Premier League club for several months.

Telegraph Sport disclosed in November that Fernandes had met West Ham chairman Andrew Bernhardt in Kuala Lumpur but the pair could not agree a deal. Talks have continued with, it is believed, Fernandes finally deciding that he wants to invest in the club.

Indeed it is possible that a resolution to West Ham's ownership may be found this week even though the club's owner, CB Holding, maintains it is in no hurry to sell.

Two other bidders have submitted offers. Last week David Sullivan, the former Birmingham City co-owner, underwent the second stage of the due diligence process. On Monday night the Intermarket Group claimed it had met Rothschild, the bank that has been engaged by Bernhardt to sift through the offers, and will formally submit a bid in writing on Tuesday.

Even so, it is Fernandes's bid that has caused the greatest excitement given his track-record for innovative ideas, flair and growing businesses as well as his passion for sport. He is also team principal of the Lotus Formula One team. The businessman is also firmly committed to supporting manager Gianfranco Zola and met the Italian after the Boxing Day victory over Portsmouth.

Fernandes, 45, is expected to attend Sunday's league match at home to Wolves and there is a sense of anticipation around West Ham that the club may be able to make a positive announcement prior to the fixture which could provide a launchpad for the rest of their season.

Meanwhile, the Football Association will on Wednesday begin its inquiry into the crowd disturbances at West Ham during and after the Carling Cup clash with Millwall in August.

West Ham and Millwall are set to launch a strong defence against a total of seven charges. Both clubs were alleged to have taken insufficient action to stop missile throwing and violent, threatening and racist behaviour at Upton Park.

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