Indian businessman set to take over Santander

Last Updated 23 January 2011, 04:26 IST

Santander confirmed a statement released by Ali Syed earlier indicating that the investment company he founded -- Western Gulf Advisory -- had received the approval of Spain's Sports Ministry to take over ownership of the club.

Santander said Ali Syed was now finalising the deal with the Cantabrian government, which has a major stake in the north coast club.

"I am excited and proud to be the new owner of Real Racing Club de Santander," Ali Syed said. "I look forward to an active and long-term commitment to this great club, and will invest all my knowledge and financial strength to elevate the club to the highest level of success in Spain and Europe."

Ali Syed said the acquisition is part of long-term strategy plan for Western Gulf Advisory, the investment firm he founded.

"The conclusion of the sale of shares will guarantee the institutional and economic stability of Racing," Santander said in a statement.

Santander newspaper El Diario Montanes reported that Ali Syed will control just over 80 percent of the club's shares and was negotiating how much of its existing debt he will assume.

"If he brings the money we'll go out and dance in the streets because right now Racing is bankrupt," Cantabria government president Miguel Angel Revilla told COPE radio.

"(Santander) wouldn't even make it to the summer in the hands of those who have it now."

Ali Syed's statement added that Credit Suisse performed "an intense due diligence process that analyzed and approved Syed's strong financial and intellectual capabilities to take the club forward."

Ali Syed lost out to poultry giant Venky for Blackburn, and had to cooperate with British investigators during negotiations after reports emerged his company was shut down by fiscal regulators.

The Spanish league has now had two foreign takeovers in seven months, after Qatari sheik Abdullah Bin Nasser Al-Thani became the new owner of struggling Malaga in June.

Santander is 98 years old but has struggled recently after failing to attract significant sponsorship. From 43 seasons in the top flight, the club has never won a major trophy and only just avoided relegation last season. The team also sold its brightest prospect, Sergio Canales, to Real Madrid in the last offseason for a reported euro5 million ($6.8 million).

Halfway through the current season, the team is in 14th place, four points above the drop zone.

(Published 23 January 2011, 03:18 IST)

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