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Two more bids for Chelsea confirmed while public jockeying continues


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The number of confirmed bids for Chelsea Football Club has grown by two more on Monday, three days after the actual deadline, with a “British bid” in from a quartet of (very rich) Chelsea fans and one from a partnership led by Larry Tanenbaum of MLSE fame also confirmed. (Not to be confused with Eugene Tenenbaum, current Chelsea director.)

Meanwhile, some of those who had already confirmed bids continued their public jockeying, as Raine Group are expected to come up with their shortlist soon.

The “British bid” is backed by Centricus, a London-based “global investment firm”. As per the BBC, “Centricus co-founder Nizar Al-Bassam and chief executive Garth Ritchie are heading the bid, which also includes hedge fund manager Jonathan Lourie of Cheyne Capital and Bob Finch of Talis Capital.” All four are said to be season-ticket holders, and have confirmed in a statement that they intend to keep business as usual going at Chelsea — looking at it as “a very, very long-term commitment” and (also) an investment opportunity.

The details of Tanenbaum’s partnership are not as clear, but he did confirm the bid to a journalist, who later added the the main financial backing is coming from CVC Capital Partners, another massive global equity firm. (Yet again putting into perspective just how small Chelsea’s £2-3b price tag is when such companies control many tens if not hundreds of billions in total assets.) Tanenbaum is chairman and part-owner of MLSE (owners of the Toronto Maple Leafs, the Toronto Raptors, Toronto FC, and a few other local teams), tough MLSE themselves are not involved in the bid. Tanenbaum is also the chairman of the NBA Board of Governors, and is generally well regarded by fans of his teams.

Meanwhile Nick Candy claims to have sweetened his deal with the addition of even more financial backing from South Korea, and Sacramento Kings owner Vivek Ranadive has been named as one of the people in Sir Martin Broughton’s consortium. Broughton’s bid does face potential scrutiny however if Josh Harris is involved, since he already owns part of Crystal Palace, and that might be a problem as a potential conflict of interest or at least sticking point.

Elsewhere, the Ricketts bid seem to be responding to the growing backlash against them by a public tour of goodwill led by Tom Ricketts himself. As per the Athletic and the Evening Standard, the Rickettses are “confident” of making Raine’s shortlist.

The preferred bidder — chosen by Raine, perhaps with some input from current Chelsea leadership (i.e. Buck, Granovskaia, Tenenbaum) — could be named by the “end of the week”, as per the Guardian, though obviously that would only be the beginning of the actual process of ownership transfer.

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