Everton takeover: Group led by London-based businessman makes £400m bid for club

A group of international investors led by London-based businessman Vatche Manoukian has joined the increasingly crowded field of potential new owners at Everton by making a £400million all-equity bid for the Premier League club.

The son of an Armenian entertainment and property tycoon, Manoukian is a partner in global technology investment firm IMS Digital Ventures and his bid group includes investors from the Gulf and United States.

Their interest means current owner Farhad Moshiri has three firm bids already on the table, with at least two other interested parties keen to make a move if the price and timing is right. Everton declined to comment on the latest bid when approached by The Athletic.

The frontrunners, certainly in terms of fan sentiment, are British businessmen and lifelong Everton fans Andy Bell and George Downing.

They are already part of a group led by US investment firm MSP Sports Capital that lent Everton £158million last year, so they have the added incentive of trying to protect their existing investment in the club.



New groups enter Everton bidding with announcement expected who Moshiri favours

Their bid, which was lodged last week, is a mix of fresh equity and a £350million loan secured on the club’s new stadium that would refinance Everton’s existing debts.

That loan would be provided by the merchant bank BDT & MSD Partners, which was originally set up to invest American IT billionaire Michael Dell’s wealth.

Contrary to some reports, Dell himself has no desire in buying Everton, or any other English football club, as it would be a clear conflict of interest with his investment firm’s lucrative lending business. MSD has lent money to Burnley, Derby, Southampton, Swansea, West Bromwich Albion and West Ham.

Confusingly, the third bid is from Bell and Downing’s partners, MSP Sports Capital, as the New York-based fund has put together a new group with a view to taking full control of the club. This bid is believed to be a complex mix of equity and debt.

However, alongside this trio, there are also the likes of John Textor and Dan Friedkin, two American businessmen who have already built multi-club groups.

Textor, as The Athletic first reported, can only make a move for Everton if he can find a buyer for his 45 per cent stake in Crystal Palace, which he has been trying to sell for several months. As well as his Palace shares, he also owns Belgian team RWD Molenbeek, Brazil’s Botafogo and French side Lyon.

Textor had expressed an interest in buying Everton (Xavier Laine/Getty Images)

Textor had expressed an interest in buying Everton (Xavier Laine/Getty Images)

Friedkin, the owner of Italy’s AS Roma and French side AS Cannes, has held preliminary talks with Moshiri but has not made a bid for the club.

The gun was fired in this race two weeks ago when the period of exclusivity Moshiri agreed with Miami-based investment firm 777 Partners expired.

That brought an end to a bizarre nine-month saga during which 777 lent Everton almost £200million to meet the club’s running costs and continue the construction of the new stadium at Bramley-Moore Dock. But 777 was unable to meet the Premier League’s conditions for approving the takeover, most notably the settlement of MSP’s £158million loan.

Everton plan to move into Bramley Moore for the start of the 2025-26 season (Paul Ellis/AFP via Getty Images)

Everton plan to move into Bramley Moore for the start of the 2025-26 season (Paul Ellis/AFP via Getty Images)

Those 777 loans took Everton’s total debt to almost £1billion, although £450millon of that total is made up of unsecured shareholder loans from Moshiri, which will almost certainly have to be completely, or very nearly completely, wiped out for any new owner to step into his shoes at the club.

For its part, 777 is now fighting bankruptcy, with its main backer, US insurance group A-Cap, calling the shots.

There have been some reports that A-Cap was willing to pick up the baton in 777’s pursuit of Everton and attempt to take control of the club itself but that is not the case, as A-Cap has its own financial concerns to focus on and must distance itself from 777.



Explained: What the failed 777 Partners takeover means for Everton

What is true, however, is that A-Cap has a clear interest in Everton’s debt to 777 and is therefore a key part of the conversation about the club’s future. The most likely outcome is that A-Cap will extend the length of the loan and defer any interest payments.

In terms of who A-Cap will be making that deal with, the various interested parties in Everton believe Moshiri will enter into exclusive negotiations with one of them in the coming days.

(Joe Prior/Visionhaus via Getty Images)

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