Thursday, 28 May 2009
New Owner Revealed
I believe I have followed a trail to discover just who the new owner of West Ham is. Firstly, let's go back a stage or two to set the scene. It has been openly discussed in the media that Straumur Burdaras and a consortium of banks that BG borrowed from, have got together in order to acquire West Ham. So how does that work?
Bjorgolfur Gudmundsson bought West Ham with loans from the Icelandic investment bank, Straumur Burdaras and then he injected a further £30m borrowed from other banks. Straumur were a well run bank but got into trouble when the Icelandic economy drove over a cliff and many of their investments went bust including the £85m borrowed from them by BG's holding company Hansa, for him to buy West Ham.
Straumur Burdaras are currently in moratorium themselves. The moratorium is not bankruptcy, administration or nationalisation but merely provides for a 'breathing space' during which Straumur's management can restructure its financial position under the supervisory eye of the Financial Supervisory Administration (FSA) in Iceland. The credit crunch saw Straumur lose 700 million Euros last year but they were only very marginally insolvent by around €20m and the big straw that broke their back was the £85m owed by BG's holding company Hansa.
The moratorium process expires on 11 June 2009 and by that date, a newly structured Straumur will be up and running on approval from Iceland's FSA board who will then step down. A completely new, self-financing business plan which includes the asset of West Ham United, instead of the whopping great hole of a bad debt of £85m in their accounts. Two weeks ago Straumur announced that they had sold their shares in eQ Bank in Finland for just over €37 million further improving their liquidity situation.
It seems a strange decision to us in the UK, that a bank should invest in and run businesses. It just doesn't happen here but Straumur Burdaras have a history of acquiring and running businesses very successfully. For example, their ownership of eQ Bank that they just sold. A few months earlier they acquired a retail furniture chain in Denmark. Just this week, it was announced that they financed a management buy-out of London based H&B Foods, a large speciality cheese wholesaler and supplier in the UK with a near £80m turnover. A spokesman for Straumur Burdaras said: “The Cheese Company will be profitable from day one. We agreed to help finance the deal because we believe in the management’s vision for the business and its future prospects. We are delighted that PHA Media are advising us on all aspects of our communications strategy”. What and/or who is PHA Media I hear you say?
Well, Phil Hall was West Ham's Communications Director until he resigned his directorship last year. His problem was that as a successful owner of PHA Media (Phil Hall Associates Media), he had a fear of getting struck off from holding any directorships should problems arise with West Ham's finances. That was one of the things that alerted me to the possibility that BG was up to his old, fraudulent shenanigans. Phil Hall remained as an advisor to West Ham but stopped sitting in on board meetings as a director. Another director resigned at the same time for the same reasons.
Phil Hall's clients includes – West Ham United still, Portsmouth FC, Carlos Tevez, Kia Joorabchian, Manchester City, Paul Gascoigne and Avram Grant! Now there are some names to conjure with. Joorabchian is our transfer consultant? He was also involved in trying to get Kaka to go to Manchester City for £100m in January. Portsmouth have just been sold to an Arabian billionaire who admits to having discussed the possibility of buying West Ham before opting for Portsmouth. A strange set of coincidences that doesn't end there.
At the moment Straumur are being run by an Icelandic government appointed committee but the owners of Straumur are devising the strategy to get them back up and running on a self-financing basis. On June 11 when Straumur comes out of moratorium, the directors of Straumur will return and effectively they will be the ones that are to run West Ham! One of them will almost certainly be our new chairman.
According to the shareholder list from Straumur's website, Samson Global Holding are Straumur's largest shareholders. The main owner of Samson Global Holding is -
Bjorgolfur Thor Björgolfsson - Bjorgolfur Gudmundsson's son!
BG also has shares in Samson but the company is mostly owned by Bjorgolfur Thor who was also Straumur's Chairman before the Icelandic government's intervention. Thor does not have a criminal record for fraud like his father has and I have heard that he has become an avid West Ham fan so he cannot be all bad! He is also the Chairman of Actavis, a pharmaceuticals giant involved all around the world so he was a very much richer man than his father was . Whether he is still very rich or not is another matter.
So BG is to no longer be our Chairman but guess what? His son Thor probably will be any time soon!
Posted by Hammersfan at 13:55