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Thaksin lodges bid for Manchester City

Former Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra has lodged an £81.6 million ($162.5 million) formal takeover bid for Manchester City.

The City board said it intended to back the bid from UK Sports Investments, a vehicle indirectly controlled by Thaksin and his son and daughter. But Thaksin will have to pass the Premier League's standard „fit and proper person” test before being able to complete the proposed takeover. Thai prosecutors have recently filed corruption charges against Thaksin. Thaksin's wife has also been named in the case, which involves allegations of wrongdoing in a land deal. Thaksin's son and daughter, Panthongtae and Pintongta Shinawatra, are also major players in UK Sports Investments. Manchester City is the latest English football team to attract interest from foreign investors. If the takeover goes ahead it would mean eight Premiership clubs would be in foreign ownership, with City joining Aston Villa, Chelsea, Fulham, Liverpool, Manchester United, Portsmouth and West Ham.

The offer is 40p in cash for each Manchester City share, valuing the existing issued share capital of Manchester City at approximately £21.6 million ($43 million), together with net debt of approximately £60 million ($119.5 million). „I am delighted that the Board of Manchester City has recommended my bid for the club and I look forward to continuing the excellent work of John Wardle and his team,” said Thaksin. „We share a determination to take the club back to its rightful place at the highest level of competition in both the FA Premier League and European football.” John Wardle, chairman of Manchester City, added: „Following our significant progress over the last few years, this offer provides an exciting opportunity to take Manchester City to the next stage of our development and deliver the on-field success we have all been striving for.” Wardle said he had been asked to remain on the board of the club, together with CE Alistair Mackintosh. On the playing field, former England coach Sven-Goran Eriksson is believed to be favorite for the role to succeed Stuart Pearce as manager.

In the background to the proposed takeover has remained the corruption charges that the former Thai PM has been facing. Thaksin has stayed away from Thailand since the coup, which removed him from power last year. Thai prosecutors have filed corruption charges accusing him of illegally helping his wife buy government-owned land at a bargain price four years ago. The former Thai leader, who now lives mainly in London and was overthrown in a bloodless military coup last September, denies any wrongdoing. The charges relate to the purchase of a plot of land in Bangkok by Thaksin's wife Pojaman, for 772m baht ($24 million; £12 million). The land, owned by a government agency, had earlier been valued at 2.1 billion baht. Thaksin is accused of illegally influencing the deal. The Supreme Court said it would decide on 10 July if it would hear the case. (bbc.news)