A Saudi-led consortium has completed their takeover of Newcastle United, bringing Mike Ashley’s 14-year ownership of the club to an end and which brought jubilant scenes from St James’ Park, as Toon supporters began to dream about the club’s future for the first time, even though had been people who were not satisfied with the move, but their concerns hardly matter to the joy of the fans.
The man believed to be behind the Saudi Public Investment Fund is the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, the 36-year-old Mohammed bin Salman, although the Premier League were keen to make clear that he will not be the person in charge of making decisions at Newcastle.
Nevertheless, Bin Salman’s name will no doubt continue to be linked with that of Newcastle, so some Toon supporters will be wondering just how much money he has.
The collective wealth of the Saudi Public Investment Fund (PIF) is 320 billion pounds, but Bin Salman’s individual net worth is believed to be around 13 billion pounds.
While this is just behind the net worth of 17 billion pounds that Manchester City owner Sheikh Mansour has, Bin Salman effectively have the riches of the Saudi Arabian royal family behind him, which have a net worth of a whopping 1.3 trillion pounds.
In this instance, Manchester City’s owners fall short of Newcastle’s new proprietors, as the Abu Dhabi royal family has a net worth of 500 billion pounds.
Whether the Saudi Prince would have his influence at St James Park remains a moot question, but certainly Newcastle United has some influential and experienced people and companies around to run the show.
Saudi Public Investment Fund (PIF)
This is the sovereign wealth fund of Saudi Arabia and one of the largest in the world.
Valued at around £315bn, it is tasked with investing funds raised from the sale of oil on behalf of the government.
The takeover was confirmed by the Premier League after it said it had received “legally binding assurances” that the Saudi state would not control the football club, one of the main stumbling blocks to a deal.
This is despite the closeness of the fund to the Saudi regime, which has faced criticism over its human rights record.
The PIF says on its own website that it – acts as the Kingdom’s main investment arm to deliver a strategy focused on achieving attractive financial returns and long-term value for Saudi Arabia.
Its governor, Yasir Al-Rumayyan, will act as Newcastle’s non-executive chairman.
PIF is also chaired by Saudi’s de facto ruler Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who was linked to the gruesome 2018 murder of exiled journalist Jamal Khashoggi, although he has denied any involvement.
While some people are concerned over the involvement of Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman – because of Saudi Arabia’s record on human rights – what some people might not realize is that they probably use products backed by PIF all the time.
Disney, Uber, Facebook and Starbucks are just some of the companies to have received hundreds of millions of pounds from PIF.
The PIF now owns an 80 per cent share of Newcastle – and they are worth an eye-watering £700bn.
The golf-obsessed former banker ranks as one of the most influential figures in Saudi Arabia beyond the royal family and will, as non-executive chairman, be the key Saudi figure in Newcastle’s boardroom.
Rumayyan was the choice of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) to run the country’s Public Investment Fund (PIF). Six years ago he swapped life as an investment banker for a role that involves implementing Saudi Vision 2030, a modernisation initiative intended to wean the kingdom off its traditional dependency on oil revenues by diversifying into spheres including tourism and, now, Premier League football.
It is thought unlikely Rumayyan will relocate to Newcastle. He will delegate the day-to-day running of the club while making occasional visits. Considering his roles include governing PIF, chairing Saudi Aramaco, the state oil company, and serving on company boards including those of Uber and a Japanese bank, the appointment of a hands-on, Tyneside-based chief executive seems imperative.
The Harvard Business School graduate’s existing commitments have seen him resort to a golf simulator to protect a 12 handicap. PIF has already invested in Britain through Babylon Healthcare, which is helping develop artificial intelligence for use in the NHS.
PCP Capital Partners
The “boutique international private equity firm” was founded in 2005 by Yorkshire-born financier Amanda Staveley, with offices in London, Abu Dhabi and Dubai.
It is also co-led with Managing Partner Mehrdad Ghodoussi and the firm has offices in London, as well as in the UAE.
The company has a strong investment record, serving as trusted partners to private and institutional investors, whilst financing UK assets over the last 15 years in off-market transactions.
PCP has a successful history in football and understands the sector having played a key role in the acquisition of Manchester City after Sheik Mansour brought the club.
Staveley also attempted on two occasions to buy a stake in Newcastle but has now finally managed to help get the deal over the line and is also going to take a seat on the board, becoming a director.
Amanda Staveley was born near Ripon in Yorkshire. She is the daughter of Robert Staveley, a North Yorkshire landowner who founded the Lightwater Valley theme park, where Staveley waitressed as a child; her mother, Lynne, was an occasional model and champion show-jumper.
Staveley was educated at Queen Margaret’s School, York. As a child, she competed in showjumping and athletics. At the age of 16, Staveley left school and enrolled at a crammer, winning a place to read modern languages at St Catharine’s College, Cambridge. As a student, she supplemented her income by working as a model.
Staveley abandoned her degree after suffering from stress following a family bereavement.
In 1996, Staveley borrowed £180,000 and bought the restaurant, Stocks, in Bottisham between Cambridge and Newmarket. Through the restaurant, Staveley came to know members of Newmarket’s racing community, in particular those associated with the Godolphin Racing stables owned by the Al Maktoum family of Dubai, as well as people from Cambridge’s high-tech businesses. Through the late 1990s she started dealing in shares and became an active angel investor, especially in dot.com enterprises and biotech firms such as Futura Medical.
Staveley closed Stocks and in 2000 opened Q.ton, a £10 million conference centre and facility developed in a joint venture with Trinity College, Cambridge on Cambridge Science Park.
Investors in Q.ton were believed to include King Abdullah of Jordan.
However, the company failed. Staveley agreed an Individual Voluntary Arrangement and in 2008 was paying back her creditors, including Barclays.
After the failure of Q.ton Staveley moved to Dubai, cultivating connections centered on Abu Dhabi but extending across the Middle East.
In 2008 the Financial Times described her firm, PCP Capital Partners, as really amounting to Staveley and her legal partner, Craig Eadie, and explained that, although based in Mayfair, London, the company acts” via offshore private equity affiliates” as a vehicle for the investment of Middle Eastern money, with Staveley acting as an adviser on those deals.
These contacts brought Staveley to a new level of prominence at the end of 2008 with the investment of Middle Eastern funds in Barclays as the bank sought to recapitalise by raising money privately rather than accept a bail-out from the British government following the financial crisis of that year.
Staveley earned a fee of £30 million for her role in the transaction.
In 2010, The Daily Telegraph reported that Mansour’s disposal of his stake in Barclays had made him a profit of about £2.25 billion.
The Barclays deal followed Sheikh Mansour’s £210 million purchase of Manchester City F.C. in September of the same year through the Abu Dhabi United Group, a transaction reportedly worth £10 million in commission to PCP Capital Partners.
At the same time, Staveley was involved in extended negotiations by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum’s Dubai International Capital to buy a 49 per cent stake in Liverpool Football Club, although the deal, which would have given Staveley a place on the club’s board, eventually foundered.
On 20 November 2017, Staveley submitted a bid in the region of £300 million to buy Newcastle United, which failed.
A new takeover bid, primarily funded by the Public Investment Fund of Saudi Arabia, was reported in April 2020. It fell through again on 30 July 2020 as reported by the BBC, The Times and other media.
A £300 million deal was successfully concluded on October 7 2021, in which Staveley took a 10% share in Newcastle United.
Enigmatic British siblings Simon and David rank among the world’s richest men – the 2021 Sunday Times Rich List placed them joint second in the UK on £21.465bn – and have extensive property empires in central London and Newcastle. They have a 10% holding in the club. Jamie Reuben, David’s 34-year-old son, has joined Newcastle’s board.
Simon and David, born in Mumbai to Iraqi Jewish parents with an extensive business empire in Baghdad and India, have long been domiciled in the UK where they began their careers in scrap metal – at one point they were known as “Metal Tsars” in Russia where they dominated the aluminium industry – and carpets respectively.
Wary of both publicity and debt, David and Simon moved to Britain with their mother in the 1950s. They now concentrate largely on the property and own four miles of seafront development in Ibiza, large tracts of London’s Mayfair, Millbank Tower and large swathes of central Newcastle as well as the city’s racecourse and three golf courses. They remain involved in redevelopment projects on Tyneside.
Jamie Reuben resigned his directorship at QPR in October 2020 and will assume a hands-on boardroom role. Reuben Brothers has a philanthropic foundation concentrating on healthcare and education. It founded the Nancy Reuben primary school, an independent Jewish school in north London, in honour of their mother, and has donated £80m to Oxford University.
Courtesy: The Guardian, MARCA, Sky Sports, BBC, Chronicle live and Wikipedia