Abu Dhabi strikes deal for UK soccer club

Sovereign wealth funds have entered British football with The Abu Dhabi United Group, headed by ‘the Donald Trump of Abu Dhabi’, agreeing to buy Manchester City. Dubai International Capital previously tried to purchase a stake in the Tom Hicks-owned Liverpool team.

The Abu Dhabi United Group for Development and Investment will acquire Manchester City Football Club of the Premier League. 

Estabhlished in 2005 with capital of AED200 million, the private investment firm is chaired by Sheikh Saqer bin Ahmed bin Sultan Al Qassimi, who was exptected to take a 30 percent equity stake in the firm. It was initially established to invest in the United Arab Emirates region.

The Abu Dhabi United Group will purchase Manchester City from Thai prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, who is wanted in Thailand in relation to alleged fraud charges and also reportedly wants to raise a private equity fund.

Yesterday, the Abu Dhabi group signed a memorandum of understanding to buy the club before entering due diligence, according to the club’s website.

Sulaiman Al Fahim will represent the investment vehicle on the club’s newly constituted board, according to Arabian Business.

Sulaiman Al Fahim

Al Fahim is chief executive of the Abu Dhabi United Group as well as Hydra Properties, the United Arab Emirates developer behind several grand projects in the region, including Hydra Twin Towers Hydra Village in Abu Dhabi. The scale of activity has earned Al Fahim the nickname, “The Donald Trump of Abu Dhabi.”

He has also been working as an ambassador of Abu Dhabi’s economy. In June he talked up the region while mixing it with stars in Hollywood at the 7th Annual Chrysalis Butterfly Ball. The businessman fronts a television reality show called “Hydra Executives”.

Manchester City is currently third in the Barclays Premier League after three games.

Several Premier League clubs have been bought up by foreign investors in recent years most notably Chelsea FC, which was acquired by Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich in 2003 and Liverpool FC which was acquired in 2007 by George Gillet and Tom Hicks, co-founder of the private equity firm now known as HM Capital. In that instance the US sport tycoons stepped in after talks between Liverpool and Dubai International Capital broke down. Dubai has since tried to buy Gillet’s 50 percent stake amid squabbles between the co-owners.