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Last Updated: Monday, 28 July, 2003, 12:21 GMT 13:21 UK
Chelsea tycoon to clear club's debt
Roman Abramovich
Mr Abramovich is spending freely
The Russian billionaire buying Chelsea football club says he plans to wipe out the lion's share of its debts.

Roman Abramovich - who now owns 94% of the club - has said he will repay a 75m ($122m) bond sold to investors six years ago.

The debt had not been due to be repaid until 2007, but if bondholders agree to the 36-year-old tycoon's offer it will remove the majority of the club's debts at a stroke.

The move takes the total cash spent by Mr Abramovich on Chelsea to 177m, since he announced he was buying the club at the start of this month.

Shopping list

That figure includes the initial 60m cost of buying the club, at 35p a share, and the 37m spent to date on players.

Mr Abramovich's riches have breathed new life into a moribund transfer market, with endless press speculation over which player might be next on Chelsea's shopping list.

Weekend press reports said Chelsea had agreed a club record 20m fee with Roma for the Brazilian midfielder Emerson.

Manchester United's Juan Sebastian Veron is also expected to complete a 13.5m move to the London club this week.

Market exit

Meanwhile, Mr Abramovich has made a final push to mop up the remaining shares in the club as he takes it back into private hands.

He has extended the deadline for the remaining shareholders to accept his offer until 26 August

Anyone still holding shares after that date will lose their voting rights and dividend payments, Chelsea said in a statement.

The club's holding company, Chelsea Village, will leave the Alternative Investment Market on 22 August, it said.

Investigation

The Financial Services Authority has launched an inquiry into Chelsea's shareholdings in the run-up to Mr Abramovich's take-over.

The FSA said last week it had information to suggest publicly disclosed shareholdings in Chelsea Village might have been inaccurate and the market could have been misled about the company's true ownership.

Chelsea said on Monday the probe would have no impact on the timetable of its offer to shareholders.

Chelsea will be only the second major football club to delist since Tottenham Hotspur became the first in Britain to join the London stock market in the 1980s.

Leicester City went private after being taken over earlier this year after a period in administration.




CHELSEA

SEE ALSO:
Watchdog launches Chelsea probe
24 Jul 03  |  Business
Chelsea 'could face share inquiry'
02 Jul 03  |  Business
Russian businessman buys Chelsea
02 Jul 03  |  Business
Profile: Roman Abramovich
01 Jul 03  |  Business
Football's tycoons chase the dream
02 Jul 03  |  Business
Banks calls for Chelsea probe
01 Jul 03  |  Chelsea
Chelsea announce new losses
31 Mar 03  |  Chelsea


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