Leeds set for new owners

Leeds owner Ken Bates has announced Bahrain-based investment bank GFH Capital will complete a 100% takeover of the club on December 21.

Leeds set for new owners

Leeds owner Ken Bates has announced Bahrain-based investment bank GFH Capital will complete a 100% takeover of the club on December 21.

Bates, 80, who took control of the club just short of eight years ago, confirmed the first part of the takeover had been completed and he will stay on as chairman until the end of the season to help the new owners during a transitional period.

"We have now completed all the negotiations and investigations with GFH and we've now completed the first part of the purchase and that happened at 10.30pm last night," Bates told Yorkshire Radio.

"Put briefly, they're taking over 100% of the club, as I say the first part was completed at 10.30pm last night and it will be totally completed on December 21.

"Meanwhile there's a transitional period in which they get to know more about the club."

Bates also confirmed that he will be taking on a new role as club president at the end of the season, while one GFH representative, David Haigh, would be joining the club's board immediately, with three more new directors in place before Christmas.

Bates added: "Quite simply they (GFH) will be providing additional working capital for the club and they are also providing funds to strengthen the team.

"Infact there's already been a small injection this morning as far as working capital is concerned.

"Nothing has changed, I will continue as chairman until the end of the season when I look forward to handing over to my successor and become president and sitting back perhaps, taking a bit more time off and enjoying what has been eight years of very hard work.

"That's what (my wife) Susannah and I chose when we came in, so that's what we've got on with.

"Neil Warnock will continue as manager, obviously with more support than the present owners have been able to give and we look forward to a smooth transition.

"I can say although the negotiations have taken a very long time, the benefit of that is that, unlike some overseas owners, who have gone in blind like a bull in a china shop and made a complete mess of the club after taking over, this six-month courtship if you like, for want of a better phrase, has given them (GFH) enough opportunities to see how Leeds United works.

"What the advantages and disadvantages are, the strengths and weaknesses, what needs to be done and what needs to be supported.

"So you can look for a more Manchester United-type transition than we've seen at Blackburn, Portsmouth and other less fortunate clubs."

Bates' announcement ends an unsettling six-month period of uncertainty for the npower Championship club, who have slipped to 18th in the table after failing to win any of their last seven league matches.

Leeds first announced they had entered into talks about possible new investment with an unnamed party in May, and revealed in June that they had entered into an exclusivity agreement with a Middle East consortium, which had begun due diligence.

Long periods of silence from both the club and GFH since has infuriated some fans, while Warnock said he would only be able to mount a serious promotion challenge with the backing of new owners.

Bates, who had steadfastly refused to reveal the true identity of Leeds' owners for the first six years in which he was in charge, announced he had bought 72.85% of the club's shares for an undisclosed sum in April last year.

The total cost of the deal to buy Leeds has been reported at £52m.

Bates, who took control at Elland Road 18 months after selling his controlling shares in Chelsea to current owner Roman Abramovich, said: "We've made no secret of the fact that we've been looking at additional partners and investors ever since I joined the club on January 21, 2005.

"There have been a number of reasons why it hasn't succeeded before, one of them being there are so many liars, chancers and conmen attracted to football and it's been a very slow, steady, careful process in weeding out those people and not letting them anywhere near Elland Road."

GFH Capital, a subsidiary of Bahraini investment bank Gulf Finance House, is a private equity firm, specialising in investing money in "growth companies".

Bates said GFH deputy chief executive Haigh and director Salem Patel, who have attended several of Leeds' home games this season, were grateful for the transition period.

"They think this is important because they know nothing about the day-to-day running of Leeds United and I'm happy to work in tandem with them to ensure that the learning curve from their point of view is as smooth and as easy as possible," he added.

"One member (of GFH) will join the board immediately and we'll have three by Christmas.

"We've had to be very careful about who has come along, but these people have the resources and are backed by a very rich individual, who is very close to the government of Bahrain, so it gives us confidence we've made the right choice here."

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