Billionaire Peter Lim still in running to buy Valencia

SINGAPORE – Billionaire Peter Lim, 60, is still in the running to acquire Spanish Primera Liga side Valencia CF.

This comes barely a week after Spanish and local media reported that the Singapore businesman had failed in his bid to acquire Valencia.

TODAY understands that recent developments suggested that Lim’s bid to buy 70 per cent of the share belonging to Valencia Foundation has not been rejected by the club.

This was revealed at a recent extraordinary general meeting (EGM) organised by Valencia which was attended by some 7,000 people. The Spanish club had called the meeting to speak of Lim’s interest to invest in the club and to pay off the €300 million (S$519 million) debt it owes creditor Bankia.

At the EGM which lasted close to two hours, Valencia CF President, Amadeo Salvo, harshly criticised Bankia and its consulting firm KPMG as the crowd cheered for him, and booed Bankia.

Said Salvo: “If Bankia wanted to sell its credit, it is more than welcomed to do so. However, if Bankia wanted to sell the club, it will have to enforce the shares pledge. Until such time, Bankia is not entitled to sell the club, which belongs to the shareholders.”

It is also understood that the EGM only put Lim’s offer on the table for discussion, as Lim is the only one who has bid for the club – dismissing rumours that Qatari Investment Authority (QIA) and American investment fund TPG have also submitted bids.

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Salvo also called for Bankia to reveal the sale proceedings to the club. He said: “Bankia’s process is not transparent. Bankia refused to let Valencia know who the ‘alleged’ offers came from and what are their terms of offer.”

It was also announced at the EGM that a committee will be set up to immediately manage the sales process of the club. It will be made up of four representatives, namely one from Bankia and consulting firm KPMG, one named by PricewaterhouseCoopers, and one from Valencia Foundation and Valencia CF each. It is understood that Valencia CF has informed Bankia about its proposal to take control of the club’s sales process.

Aurelio Martinez, President of the Valencia Foundation, revealed that the committee has until Feb 24 to receive all binding offers. He said: “This includes the ones that have potentially have existed under the previous process of KPMG and others and any new ones. KPMG will provide all up to date information that they have received.

“The management committee will then meet with the President of Valencia CF, the President of the Foundation Valencia CF, and the Finance Minister of the Generalitat Valenciana to present those offers in detail, and have a full consensual decision from those three (shortlisted) parties regarding who is the best offer for Valencia CF. This decision will happen shortly after 24th of February.”

A source close to Lim lauded the stand taken by the football club: “As far as we know, Bankia has said that Peter did not participate in its bidding, and is thus left out in its shortlisting process of investors to acquire the club’s shares.

“But Bankia does not have the rights to sell the club in the first place... And this has been confirmed by Valencia – which has requested Bankia to reveal to the club its process to settle the loans. Peter was never rejected by Valencia CF.”

Meanwhile, following the recently-held EGM, there have been at least five twitter accounts set up by fans of the Valencia CF who backed Lim’s case to acquire the club. One account even named him “Sir Peter Lim”.

Said the source: “Peter’s interest to invest in the club is an honest one... to help build a winning team and put the club on a sound financial footing. It is simple and a straightforward offer, and has gained him many fans. May the best bidder for the club wins. We are all eagerly anticipating.

“Peter is very amused by the many recent stories about the Bankia and KPMG process and the purported bids by Abu Dhabi’s Mubadala, QIA and TPG.”

The club is expected to hold an extraordinary Shareholder General Assembly in March to provide transparency on the decision process and the identity of the winning bid to all stakeholders, including its minority shareholders.

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