Mittal looks to play ball in Birmingham
The Indian steel baron is reportedly interested in buying the English football club, reports Vijay Dutt.india Updated: Jun 15, 2007 16:32 IST
Indian steel magnate LN Mittal has reportedly made 'initial inquiries about the possibility of buying English Premiership club Birmingham City for 'around £50m'.
The world's fifth richest man with a personal fortune of approximately £19.25bn, Mittal has, according to sources, sounded out his intentions of buying the club to co-owners David Sullivan, Ralph Gold and David Gold.
Talking to The Times, a Mittal Steel source described the news as "only a gut reaction", while Birmingham officials said they had had ' no contact with any Mittal representative' and though they had heard about him being interested, it was 'little more than a Chinese whisper'.
Luc Scheer, the Luxembourg-based spokesman for ArcelorMittal, said: "We definitely cannot make any comment." However, according to the paper, if Mittal is indeed looking to buy the club, he will have to enter a 'bidding war' with an unidentified businessman from the Far East, who the Birmingham board have held talks with about the possibility of taking over the club. This mystery businessman is reportedly 'flying down to England with his advisers in the next few days' to examine club accounts.
The reports say that Sullivan, the plc chairman, is known to be keen to sell, having grown disillusioned with football, while David Gold, the club chairman, and his brother, Ralph, the third co-owner, would rather retain control unless they viewed the deal as in the "best interests of the club".
There is also speculation that a former Birmingham player and his consortium could also enter the race.
Birmingham City are an attractive proposition. British media reports say they are free of debt and negotiations have reopened with the Birmingham city council over plans to build a new stadium.
If Mittal does take over the club, his money would no doubt allow the management to bring in big names to the club. Bulgarian club CSKA Sofia is also under Indian ownership with another steel magnate, Pramod Mittal, having taken over.