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STRATEGIC MOVE

Bahrain's IIB buys stake in Leeds United

Dubai, March 29, 2013

Bahrain-based International Investment Bank (IIB) has bought a 10 per cent stake in Britain's Leeds United from GFH Capital, the owners who took over the English soccer club three months ago.

With this deal, IIB's chief executive, Aabed Al-Zeera, will join the board of Leeds City Holdings Limited, the company which runs the club.

Dubai-based GFH Capital said the deal with the Bahraini Islamic investment bank was part of its strategy of bringing in additional investors to develop the championship (second division) club. It paid 22 million pounds ($33 million) in December to buy out shareholders including Ken Bates, the former Chelsea owner.

There was confusion over the future of the former Premier League club when it emerged last week that GFH Capital's parent firm had said in its annual report that the club was already up for sale again.

"The introduction of IIB is in keeping with what has always been GFH Capital's aim for the successful, sustainable and long term ownership of Leeds United FC," David Haigh, deputy chief executive of GFH Capital, said on the club website.

GFH Capital says it wants to retain a significant stake in the club.

Leeds, which suffered financial problems and dropped down the leagues after reaching the 2001 Champions League semi-finals, are 10th in the championship and retain only slim hopes of making the playoffs for a place in the lucrative Premier League.

Fans welcomed the latest twist in the club's ownership saga.

"We hope they're in a position to inject some much needed cash, to be invested on the pitch to build a team for next season," said Gary Cooper of Leeds United Supporters' Trust.

According to experts, IIB has scaled back its investment activities in recent years following the global financial crisis and reported revenues of only $3.1 million in 2011.-Reuters




Tags: Bahrain | IIB | Stake | soccer | Leeds | GFH Capital |

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