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Last Updated: Thursday, 25 October 2007, 09:45 GMT 10:45 UK
Saints in talks with hedge fund
Southampton's Youssef Safri tackles Kevin Lisbie of Colchester United
Southampton are currently mid-table in the Championship
Southampton FC has confirmed that London-based hedge fund Sisu Capital has made an offer to buy the club.

A deal would see Sisu taking a majority stake in parent company Southampton Leisure Holdings plc of at least 55%.

Southampton said the investment would be a "long-term commitment" and that Sisu would boost the club's prospects for promotion to the Premier League.

It also said that Microsoft tycoon Paul Allen had not made a "formal" bid for the club.

Southampton Leisure Holdings, which controls the club, announced earlier in the week that it was in talks with an unnamed "major UK-based investment company".

It said on Thursday that subject to approval by the board and the company's shareholders, the deal would be executed by means of a placing of new shares at 40p per share - 20% below its current share price.

This means the investment values Southampton Football Club below its market value on the London Stock Exchange.

Winning investment?

If the deal goes ahead, Sisu has pledged to support the continuing development of the club's youth academy and to strengthen its first-team squad in an effort to secure the club's long-term future.

Southampton was in the top flight for 27 years before being relegated in 2005 and has struggled to regain its footing since then.

If Sisu succeeds in taking a majority stake in the company, it would be the first time a British football club has been controlled by a hedge fund.

The bid shows that investor interest for football clubs in the UK is not slowing, with Arsenal most recently in the spotlight, as Russian billionaire Alisher Usmanov shows growing interest in taking control of the Premier League club.

SEE ALSO
Saints reveal proposed takeover
22 Oct 07 |  Southampton
Football club 'opens new talks'
10 Oct 07 |  Wiltshire
Usmanov buys more Arsenal shares
28 Sep 07 |  Business

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