By Nick Harris
19 November 2010
Blackburn have become the first India-owned Premier League club today after a deal was finalised by Jack Walker’s trust, BRFC Investments, to sell its 99.9 per cent stake in Rovers to the Venky’s London Limited, a new subsidiary of the poultry conglomerate Venky’s, for £23m. Venky’s will also assume club debt of around £20m, and most important for fans have made a firm, written pledge “to commit funds on a consistent and systematic basis to future transfer and / or loan activity”.
A list of other pledges, including promoting Rovers in India, has been made in Venky’s offer document and is reproduced below.
Full details of the sale and quotes from members of the Rao family who own Venky’s can be found on Rovers’ website here. An offer document has been sent to the remaining shareholders, who own a tiny fraction of stock between them, or around 8,000 shares worth 17.17p each. The deal will go ahead regardless.
Anuradha J Desai, the chairperson of Venky’s, runs the family business with her brothers Mr. Venkateshwara Rao (joint MD) and Balaji Rao (director). Desai said: “Blackburn Rovers is an historic institution that has won the Premier League and we want the fans to embrace us so that we are able to do our best in the interests of the club.”
The current management team in the widest sense will stay in place, and Venky’s will attempt to exploit the Premier League’s growing popularity in south Asia. Balaji Rao said: “We see real sustainable growth for the club moving forward, both within the UK and also internationally and we intend to exploit our in-depth knowledge of the Indian market in particular, and beyond that, the whole of Asia. Blackburn Rovers fans will be delighted to add to the family a huge Indian and Asian fan base. The immediate future will be spent with the key figures at the club from the Chairman and the management team right through to the players and club staff working with them to ensure that we move forward as a team.”
Blackburn’s manager, Sam Allardyce, said he doesn’t expect a huge cash windfall. “You’ve got to keep to the reality,” he said. “People will go off mentioning we’re after Torres or Drogba but in terms of investment, rather than huge sums of money, it will be relatively moderate. We will improve the squad but we will have to be diligent in our research to get the right player and spend the money wisely.”
Blackburn first announced in late October that they were close to a deal with Venky’s.
Blackburn are in 14th place with 15 points after 13 games this season and host Aston Villa on Sunday.
From the top of the current table downwards, other major foreign investors in the Premier League (where a majority of clubs are ow owned by foreign owners or have a major shareholder from overseas): 1st Chelsea (owned by Russia’s Abramovich), 2nd Arsenal (major shareholder USA’s Kroenke), 3rd Man Utd (owned by USA’s Glazers), 4th Man City (owned by Abu Dhabi’s Sheikh Mansour), 6th Sunderland (owned by USA’s Ellis Short), 9th Aston Villa (owned by USA’s Randy Lerner), 11th Liverpool (owned by USA’s NESV), 14th Blackburn, 15th Blackpool (owned partly by Latvia’s Valeri Belokon), 16th Fulham (owned by Egypt’s Al Fayed), 18th Birmingham (owned by China’s Carson Yeung).
.VENKY’s takeover pledges (from offer document)