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West Ham warm to new shareholder after remaining Icelandic stake goes stateside

October 3 – Premier League West Ham United have a new 10% shareholder after the residual holding held by Iceland’s CB Holding, who gained the shares after the collapse of Iceland’s Stramur Investment Bank in 2009, sold to US investor Tripp Smith for an undisclosed sum.

Smith is a senior managing director of private equity firm The Blackstone Group, and replaces former non-executive director Daniel Svanstrom on the West Ham board. He has made the investment from personal funds.

West Ham is majority owned by David Sullivan and David Gold who bought majority control from Straumur in 2010 – they previously owned Birmingham City.

Since then the duo have led the club to the new London Stadium (London’s 2012 Olympic Stadium) securing a controversial lease at a peppercorn rate, as well as riding the wave of the Premier League’s dramatic rise in commercial revenue.

Under the London Stadium lease agreement Sullivan – the current majority shareholder – cannot sell to another buyer within the next four years. Smith is not believed, at this time, to be looking to increase his stake.

The London Stadium was built with a public money for the 2012 Olympics. The West Ham deal was controversial as then Orient owner Barry Hearn (the nearest professional club to the stadium), argued that West Ham’s effective control of the stadium would mean that new owner of the club would effectively be buying a £750 million debt-free stadium thrown in free of charge.

West Ham become the fourth Premier League club to have American shareholders, alongside Manchester United, Arsenal, Liverpool and Swansea.

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