West Ham owners poised to sell £150m stake to Czech mogul on route to £300m cash-out

October 29 – Czech businessman Daniel Kretinsky looks set to take a £150 million, 27%, stake in Premier League West Ham with the option to take full ownership of the in the future.

Kretinsky owns the Czech top-flight side Sparta Prague, has built is wealth  in the energy, media, industrial and retail sectors. He is a significant player in Britain, being the largest shareholder in Royal Mail and the second-largest in supermarket chain J Sainsbury. His fortune is valued at £2.9 billion.

Media reports are that the transaction will be formalised early November, valuing West Ham at about £600 million – significantly more than the £305 million paid in the Saudi-backed acquisition of Newcastle United.

West Ham was bought by David Gold and David Sullivan in 2010. Since then they have moved the club’s home to the London Stadium, the £900 million+ facility that was built by taxpayers’ money and was the centrepiece of the London Olympics in 2012.

That deal to move West Ham over from Upton Park has been mired in controversy with critics arguing that it gave away a public-financed national asset away for virtually nothing. Barry Hearn, owner of Leyton Orient (the nearest club to the stadium) when the West Ham deal was done, said at the time that anyone buying West Ham would effectively get a brand new stadium thrown in to the deal. While the deal will reflect some value for the stadium, Hearn’s words are now looking a little prophetic.

West Ham has a 99-year lease on the stadium for which they pay just £2.5 million. Under the deal in 2013 with the London Legacy Development Corporation (LLDC), Sullivan and Gold would have to pay a windfall tax to the Greater London Authority of about 20% of any sale over £300 million.

Sullivan and Gold are expected to retain majority control until March 2023 before completing the club sale. They are expected to share profits on the full sale of about £300 million, according to the Times.

Sullivan and Gold paid £86 million for 86% of the club. West Ham posted a £65 million loss for past year and have agreed a £120 million, 5-year loan with MSD UK Holdings.

Capacity of the London Stadium is currently 62,000 with plans to increase to 67,000. All Premier League games are generally sold out.

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