Gulf Finance House, the investment bank based in Bahrain, has confirmed that its private equity arm, GFH Capital Limited, is leading the proposed takeover of Leeds United.
In a statement released to the Bahraini Stock Exchange, Gulf Finance House said GFH Capital Limited - its Dubai-based subsidiary - had “signed an exclusive agreement to lead and arrange the acquisition of Leeds City Holdings, the parent company of LUFC.”
The announcement followed weeks of speculation about the involvement of GFH Capital in the on-going bid to take control of Leeds.
Members of the firm’s senior management team attended United’s match against Wolves last month, as guests of chairman Ken Bates, and were present at both Saturday’s game against Nottingham Forest and Tuesday’s League Cup win over Everton.
GFH Capital have been working to push through a deal to buy Bates’ 72.85 per cent stake in Leeds for more than four months, and today’s statement is the first official comment from either GFH Capital or Gulf Finance House (GFH).
The statement read: “GFH would like to confirm that GFH Capital Limited, a 100% subsidiary of Gulf Finance House, has signed an exclusive agreement to lead and arrange the acquisition of Leeds City Holdings, the parent company of LUFC.
“According to a recent study by Deloitte, LUFC is one of the best supported clubs in English football with a higher average match-day attendance than most Premier League teams. In addition, LUFC has a large and passionate fan base and a rich history of success in English football over the last 40 years.
“Football teams in England have recently received a significant boost due to the re-negotiation of broadcasting rights and it is expected to that from next season each team in the Premier League will receive a minimum of £60m per season due to the increase in broadcasting rights. LUFC would also benefit from this if it can achieve promotion to the Premier League.
“Due to a confidentially provision, no further details can be given about the commercial terms of the transaction.”
United have as yet made no comment on GFH’s statement but Bates confirmed over the weekend that Leeds were in talks with a “banking institution” with interests in the Gulf.
He was joined at Elland Road on Saturday by GFH Capital’s deputy chief executive, David Haigh, and two of the company’s directors, Salem Patel and Hisham Alrayes.