Abramovich, who is reported to be worth about $6.3 billion and is a close friend of Russian President Vladimir Putin, is paying £29.6 million ($49.3 million) to acquire just more than 50% of Chelsea’s equity. The tycoon will also assume about £90 million of the club’s debt.
The new, 36-year-old owner is one year younger than the club’s star player, Gianfranco Zola, who Abramovich will soon have to replace. Zola announced Wednesday, July 2, that he will leave the club to return to his native Sardinia to play for his hometown team.
The main seller is British entrepreneur Ken Bates, who is relinquishing his 30% stake in the club but will remain chairman. Bates bought the club for just £1 in 1982 when it was struggling in one of the lower divisions of the English football league and was burdened with £1.5 million of debt.
Chelsea Football Club’s stock market vehicle, Chelsea Village plc, was advised on the deal by British niche investment bank Seymour Pierce, whose team on the transaction was led by Richard Feigen and Jonathan Wright. Legal counsel was provided by Mark Taylor & Co.’s Mark Taylor and Denton, Wilde and Sapte’s Paul Lester.
Abramovich was advised by Citigroup Inc.’s Robert Swannell and Simon Gluckstein, with legal counsel from Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom partner Alan Murray Jones.