Visitors have their picture taken at Stamford Bridge Stadium, home of the Chelsea Football Club, in London, Friday. (Bloomberg)
South Korea’s Hana Financial Group has recently submitted a bid of $2.6 billion to buy Premier football club Chelsea, in a consortium led by UK property magnate Nick Candy.
Local reports on Saturday said that the consortium of Candy, Hana Financial Group and Korean sports management firm C&P Sports -- dubbed “The Blue Football Consortium” -- have become one of several bidders who expressed their interest in buying Chelsea from its current Russian owner Roman Abramovich by the March 18 deadline (GMT). The size of the bid was revealed by a recent statement from Candy.
Hana confirmed to local media on Saturday that it has submitted a letter of intent to join the consortium led by Candy.
The consortium now has to compete with other confirmed bidders, including the Ricketts Family consortium. The Ricketts Family consortium includes Ken Griffin, billionaire owner and founder of the US hedge fund Citadel. Another consortium is led by Sir Martin Broughton, a heavyweight British businessman and deputy chairman of International Airlines Group, the parent company of British Airways. There is also a consortium led by Todd Boehly, a partial owner of the LA Dodgers. The size of the bids offered by other consortia have yet to be revealed as of Sunday.
The bidding comes as the Russia-Ukraine crisis has put Chelsea in a tight financial spot. The economic sanctions targeting Moscow imposed by the US and its allies, including the British government, has affected its Russian oligarch owner Abramovich. Chelsea was put up for sale by Abramovich earlier this month, after the British government froze his assets. The European champions are now effectively controlled by the British government under a special license.
Although the official deadline for the bidding ended on Friday, some final bids are likely to be submitted into the weekend. There are reportedly more than 20 interested parties, but the number of total biddings is likely to be around 10 to 15, onlookers say.
Reports say that Abramovich bought Chelsea in 2003 for $184 million, and wants at least $3.9 billion for the club.
If the consortium led by Candy succeeds in buying Chelsea, Hana would become the first South Korean business to become an owner of a professional European soccer club. Hana is currently the main sponsor of the K League and the Korean national football team. It is also the owner of the K League 2 club Daejeon Hana Citizen.
The other Korean firm in the consortium, C&P Sports, is headquartered in London and helps European football clubs connect with Korean companies and players. It helped Kumho Tire ink its famous partnership with Tottenham Hotspur.
Nick Candy, the head of the consortium, is a lifelong Chelsea fan with a net worth of some $2 billion. He earned his fortune as co-owner of the property development and design team Candy & Candy, along with his brother Christian Candy. The brothers are known for developing one of the priciest residential real estate projects in the world, the luxury condo complex One Hyde Park in London. In 2018, their business was renamed Candy Properties after Nick became the sole owner.