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FootballNewsBlackburn takeover latest: Q&A with Ahsan Ali Syed

Blackburn takeover latest: Q&A with Ahsan Ali Syed

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By Nick Harris

19 August 2010

Ahsan Ali Syed, the Bahrain-based Indian businessman who says he wants to buy Blackburn Rovers, describes himself in his company’s 2009 annual report as a “Dreamer, Visionary, Navigator and Leader”.

That report, for Western Gulf Advisory AG, which describes itself as “a self-sustaining investment and asset management company”, can be viewed and downloaded at this link.

Mr Ali, as he is known at his Bahrain HQ, has already given extensive interviews in Britain to the BBC website (link here for British-based listeners) and to the Guardian (link here).

According to his company’s last annual report, WGA had retained earnings of $101.7m (£65m) in 2009 on assets under management of $1.2bn (£766m). The report shows the company is underpinned by a loan of just over $1bn from a related party.

The report says WGA has a “robust network of more than 3,200 consultants, associated and reliable partners”. The 2009 report also showed that WGA directly employed 11 people.

Mr Ali has stressed he is not proposing to invest company money into Blackburn, but personal money. Unsubstantiated media reports say that family wealth, stemming from long-term business interests in the Hyderabad region of India, could be as high as $5bn, although there is no family sharing his name listed in Forbes’ most recent list of Indian billionaires.

Sportingintelligence has asked Mr Ali a series of questions about his interest in Blackburn, and we have received the following replies from Julia Thiem, PR manager at WGA.

Q: How much Mr Ali will pay for the club?

A: We are not disclosing these figures.

Q: When does he expect the deal to be finalised?

A: This is hard to tell but we are hoping to finalise it asap. The MoU that has been signed on Monday gives us an exclusivity period of four weeks.

Q: How much does he intend to invest over how many years? £200m over 15 years?

A: Actually, we are planning to invest a total amount of £ 300m. However, we are currently working on our long-term strategy and therefore on the allocation of funds.

Q: How much does he intend to spend on transfers this month?

A: The transfers are something that is in the hand of the management of a club. And as far as we are concerned, Sam Allardyce has commented on that today*.

Q: Does he [Mr Ali] have any other sporting interests?

A: Mr Ali also is into horse racing and owns a stable in Bahrain as well as nine thoroughbreds. Furthermore he has a passion for Formula 1.

Q: Why Blackburn?

A: Mr Ali is a fan of Blackburn Rovers for almost 10 years now. Besides, Blackburn Rovers caught his attention because they are fitting his overall investment strategy.

Q: Has he looked at other clubs – did he consider Liverpool for example?

A: Yes, he had also other suggestions on his table. However, Blackburn immediately caught his attention as they are a stable, well-run club.

Q: How much is Mr Ali’s personal wealth? (He says this deal is being done in a personal capacity).

A: Mr Ali’s personal wealth is very public. And whatever is public is public and we do not want to add any further details.

* Sam Allardyce’s most recent public comments on the subject: “The danger for me is people start thinking we have all this money available now. I have been told we could get the deal done no sooner than probably the end of September. Quite simply we can’t pay more money for players at the moment, it just can’t be done. At the moment we work only from what we can afford.”

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