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Page last updated at 16:28 GMT, Thursday, 15 April 2010 17:28 UK

Birmingham play down row with bank Seymour Pierce

Carson Yeung
Yeung completed his takeover of Birmingham in November 2009

Birmingham City's parent company insists it has not lost control of the club, despite an escalating row with investment bank Seymour Pierce.

The bank won a court order for club owner Carson Yeung to pay £2.2m by Monday, but the money did not arrive.

Seymour Pierce has now warned it could sell the club to recover the fee.

But Birmingham International Holdings (BIH) said: "BIH has not and will not lose control of Birmingham City FC as a result of this litigation."

Seymour Pierce successfully sued Birmingham in March to recover the fee it claimed to be owed for its role in Yeung's takeover.

Yeung's company, BIH, is currently seeking leave to appeal against that decision but played down the significance of the disagreement.

Hopefully it's just a technicality, the board sort it out and we move forward because I know Carson Yeung's got a great vision for the club

Alex McLeish,
Birmingham City manager

A statement said: "Birmingham International Holdings Limited stresses that the amount in dispute is immaterial to it and if payment is required to be made, will not have any material adverse effect on its financial condition or business."

And Birmingham City manager Alex McLeish also downplayed the situation, saying: "I don't think anyone on the playing side or the technical side of the staff are losing too much sleep about it."

As the situation stands, BIH cannot sell shares or issue a dividend, although Birmingham City Football Club can still trade as normal. A hearing is due on 27 May when Seymour Pierce could formally take control of the club.

Seymour Pierce said it could end up selling the shares of the club on to a new owner in order to recoup the debt, but pointed out that the matter could still be resolved if the money is repaid.

"Seymour Pierce can take a charge over the shares of Birmingham City and do what they need to do with them to recover the money it is owed, so that means they could potentially sell them to another owner," said Seymour Pierce spokesman Neil Bennett.

"This can be resolved very quickly by Carson Yeung and his company sending their cheque for £2.5m to Seymour Pierce.

"Otherwise the process will proceed rather remorsefully, and during the summer break there could be a change of owner at Birmingham City which I don't think would be in anyone's interests."


The company, which is chaired by football financier Keith Harris, had advised Yeung prior to the takeover of Birmingham, but Yeung then appointed a different company to complete the deal.

However, Seymour Pierce successfully argued its contract remained valid and it was owed the money.

Bennett explained: "Seymour Pierce advised Carson Yeung and his company, which was then called Grandtop and is now called Birmingham International Holdings, a Hong Kong company.

"They advised them on the takeover of Birmingham City and they were due to pay Seymour Pierce a success fee for £2.2m.

"They didn't pay it. Seymour Pierce has gone to court, and won the High Court case. The Hong Kong company was given 14 days to pay the money. That expired on Monday.

"They haven't paid so in effect they are in contempt of court and Seymour Pierce has taken the necessary steps to effectively take control of Birmingham City to recover the debt.

"It is very regrettable, very regrettable indeed, that Seymour Pierce has had to go to these lengths to get the fee but a contract is a contract and Seymour Pierce needs to be paid for its work."

Bennett added that Seymour Pierce had done all it could to recover the money prior to taking legal action.

"There have been very lengthy contacts both with Carson Yeung and his legal advisors, but it's past the point of contact," he said. "The money was due to be paid on Monday. They haven't paid it. They're in contempt of court. It's a serious issue.

"Everything that Seymour Pierce has done, everything that Keith Harris as chairman has done in football has been both to promote the industry and protect the interest of fans.

"So Seymour Pierce will do everything it can to ensure Birmingham is looked after, but at the end of the day it is owed a significant amount of money and will do everything it can to recover it."

McLeish insisted the matter would not affect his squad and downplayed its significance.

"Hopefully it's just a technicality, the board sort it out and we move forward because I know Carson Yeung's got a great vision for the club and he won't be wanting bad publicity on the way," said the Scot, whose side are currently ninth in the Premier League table.

"At the moment I don't think anyone on the playing side or the technical side of the staff are losing too much sleep about it. I'd like to think it's something that can get resolved quickly.

"It's business that has to be tidied up. You don't want it to be going on for two or three years but certainly they've tried to nail it as soon as they've come in. Unfortunately these things don't sort themselves out overnight.

"There's got to be a little bit of work done with them and hopefully they can get it done before the new season starts."

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see also
Yeung's Blues takeover approved
11 Nov 09 |  Birmingham
Gold cautions Yeung on price cut
14 Oct 09 |  Birmingham
McLeish is part of new Blues - Yu
13 Oct 09 |  Birmingham
Liverpool 2-2 Birmingham
09 Nov 09 |  Premier League
McLeish excited by Blues takeover
06 Oct 09 |  Birmingham
Premier League approval for Yeung
25 Sep 09 |  Birmingham
Hong Kong bid for Birmingham City
21 Aug 09 |  Business
Yeung puts deposit on Birmingham
20 Aug 09 |  Business
Yeung in Birmingham takeover bid
12 Aug 09 |  Birmingham

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