Swansea American takeover edges closer

20 Apr

Swansea chairman Huw Jenkins (left) with fellow director Martin Morgan


Swansea chairman Huw Jenkins (left) with fellow director and major shareholder Martin Morgan

Swansea City’s American takeover is edging closer to completion – and BBC Wales has learned which club directors are selling or keeping their shares.

US businessmen Jason Levien and Steve Kaplan lead a consortium that is in talks to buy a 60% stake.

The value of shares is understood to have increased tenfold since the current board took charge in 2002, with the club now valued at about £100m.

Swansea City Supporters’ Trust will retain its full 21.1% stake.

Chairman Huw Jenkins and vice-chairman Leigh Dineen, who will stay in their roles, will keep a reduced part of their current holdings, which are 13.2% and 5.3% respectively.

Jason Levien<!–

Jason Levien is managing general partner of Major League Soccer side DC United

Hotelier, entrepreneur and lifelong fan Martin Morgan and wife Louisa hold the biggest stake in the Swans – 23.7% in the name of their company OTH Limited, though those shares could be divided and a small amount retained.

New York-based South Africa-born businessman Brian Katzen – who was part of the consortium that helped save the club in 2002 – will sell most of the 21.1% stake he has with business partner Jeffrey Crevoiserat.

Rob Davies, who ran Liberty Properties – title sponsors of the club’s stadium, will sell his 10.5% holding, while Dutch businessman John van Zweden, who owns 5.3%, will also sell up.

The increase in the value of shares means a stake such as Davies’ 10.5%, which would have cost £105,000 in 2002, could make the Ospreys shareholder more than £10m.

How will Americans invest?

The not-for-profit supporters’ trust has previously told BBC Wales Sport it has sought assurances about the nature of the American investment, eager to discover how much will be spent on the club once the shares have been bought.

Levien and Kaplan are understood to be keen to buy Swansea’s home ground, Liberty Stadium, which is owned by the local council, with a view to increasing its capacity.

Swansea’s directors have been impressed by Levien and Kaplan’s plans, with Jenkins stating when news of the takeover first broke that additional investment would help the club “progress both on and off the field”.

Levien, the managing general partner of Major League Soccer side DC United, has been in Wales to continue discussions and was at St James’ Park on Saturday to watch Swansea lose to Newcastle.

He and Kaplan, principal of Oaktree Capital investment fund and vice-chairman of NBA franchise Memphis Grizzlies, had initially been negotiating a deal which would have seen them acquire more than 75% of Swansea’s shares.

That would effectively have given the American consortium complete control, including the power to issue more shares.

However, the modified acquisition of 60% will see the trust retain its 21.1% stake and ensure continuity at board level with the retention of Jenkins and Dineen.

The deal is still expected to completed by the end of the Premier League season.

*Martin Morgan resigned from his post as a director of OTH Ltd on 4 April 2016

**Brian Katzen and Jeffrey Crevoiserat own one more share than the Swansea City Supporters’ Trust, giving them less than 0.1% more of a share.

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