US billionaire agrees takeover of Aston Villa

LONDON: Aston Villa said yesterday they had accepted a takeover bid from US billionaire Randy Lerner valuing the struggling English Premier League club at £62.6mil (US$118.3mil). 

The Villa board yesterday recommended that shareholders accept the 547-pence-per-share cash bid from Reform Acquisitions Ltd, a takeover vehicle controlled by Lerner, who is owner of NFL franchise the Cleveland Browns. 

“The boards of RAL and Aston Villa are pleased to announce the terms of a recommended cash offer by RAL to acquire the entire issued and to be issued share capital of Aston Villa,” the groups said in a joint statement to the London Stock Exchange. 

After the completion of Lerner’s takeover, two Premier League clubs will be controlled by owners of American football teams. Manchester United were purchased last year for £790mil by Malcolm Glazer, owner of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. 

Yesterday’s news will bring to an end the long reign of Aston Villa chairman Doug Ellis, who has been Villa Park owner since 1982 and also had a spell as chairman from 1968 to 1975. 

Directors of the Birmingham-based club, including Ellis, who account for 35.9% of the equity, have irrevocably undertaken to accept Lerner’s offer. – AFP  

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