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Page last updated at 12:09 GMT, Tuesday, 7 October 2008 13:09 UK

West Ham defiant despite bank hit

By Simon Austin

Bjorgolfur Gudmundsson
Gudmundsson says most of his wealth is invested outside Iceland

West Ham insist they will not be affected by Iceland's second-biggest bank, Landsbanki, being placed into receivership on Tuesday.

Club chairman Bjorgolfur Gudmundsson is a major shareholder in both West Ham and Landsbanki, and was chairman of the bank until he was sacked on Tuesday.

"This is not affecting West Ham," a senior boardroom member told BBC Sport.

"One of Mr Gudmundsson's investments has gone bad, but he is still standing and has a lot of other investments."

Another board member said 67-year-old Gudmundsson had made it clear that Landsbanki's predicament had "no implications, no impact" for the club.

"West Ham is protected by Mr Gudmundsson," he said. "He has considerable personal wealth in a number of sectors, such as construction and shipping, and most of these assets and investments are overseas."

West Ham is definitely not for sale

Club board member

A weekend newspaper report claimed that Indian billionaire Anil Ambani was interested in buying West Ham and had been told the club was available for 150m.

But the board member said: "West Ham is definitely not for sale. Mr Gudmundsson is not looking to sell the club and he is as committed as ever."

The Icelandic government took control of Landsbanki on Tuesday to prevent it collapsing and sacked the bank's board.

There are now fears that the bank could become insolvent, although it released a statement saying: "Landsbanki would like to stress that the bank has not been put into liquidation but is in receivership, which gives it a temporary protection from payment of debts and obligations as they fall due."

Gudmundsson had experienced a testing few months even before the news that Landsbanki was being placed into receivership.


West Ham's shirt sponsor, XL, went bust last month, leaving the club with a potential shortfall of 5m.

It also emerged that Gudmundsson was the guarantor of a 207 million Euros (163m) bank loan given to XL.

Then, two weeks ago, an independent tribunal ruled against West Ham in the Carlos Tevez affair, leaving them liable to a 30m compensation claim.

Gudmundsson, who bought the Hammers for 85m in November 2006, was listed as one of the 1,000 richest men in the world in the 2007 Forbes Rich List.

He is the second richest man in Iceland, behind his son. In an interview with The Observer last year he said: "I have interests in companies all over the world. Our operations in Iceland are minimal. Most of our money comes from abroad."

see also
FA chief fears '3bn' club debts
07 Oct 08 |  Football
Icesave savers warned on accounts
07 Oct 08 |  Business
West Ham suffer Tevez appeal blow
26 Sep 08 |  Football
West Ham end shirt sponsor deal
12 Sep 08 |  West Ham
End of big spending at West Ham
09 May 08 |  West Ham

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