Saturday, November 03, 2007

Southampton Buyout Offer

Sisu Capital Limited, a UK-based hedge fund, has declared their interest in buying at least 55% of Southampton Leisure Holdings PLC (LON:SOO). Southampton Leisure Holdings PLC is the company that owns the Southampton football club. It has a market cap £14 1/2 million and debts of £24 million.

It's an interesting move by Sisu. They're known for investing in companies with large debts and turning them around. It would be the first soccer team they bought. In the past they attempted to takeover Derby and Manchester City. While technically Sisu could reach their 55% stake without the support of the 2 biggest shareholders, one would assume they're looking to buy Ruport Lowe's 29% stake and Alan WIlde's 16% stake.

It was known in the off-season that the club needed money. Baird and Bale were sold to raise cash. But the talk now is that things may be worse than the club previously let one with talk of players needing to take large pay cuts if a new investor is found.

The question is, how will Sisu approach ownership if they do indeed carry through with this move . Sisu has made it clear they make money on this investment if they get Southampton back into the Premiership. They've said that they'd make £10 million cash available for players. But what will they do beyond that? Will they bring in a new manager to replace George Burley? Will they raise ticket prices? Sign a deal with a company like Nike or Addidas for kits (Saints currently put them out on their own)? What else may they do?

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