Man City owner acquires Indian club Mumbai City

Via Financial Times

Manchester City’s owner has acquired India’s Mumbai City football club, days after securing a $500m investment designed to fuel their ambitious international expansion plans.

City Football Group, the Abu Dhabi-controlled organisation that owns the English Premier League champions alongside affiliated teams in the US and China, said on Thursday it has acquired a controlling 65 per cent share of the club that plays in the Indian Super League, the Asian country’s top football competition.

Financial details for the transaction were not revealed.

The latest move was announced in the same week CFG agreed to sell a $500m stake to US private equity group Silver Lake, a deal that values the football company at $4.8bn and which by many measures makes it the world’s most valuable sports organisation.

The new cash from Silver Lake is designed to build on CFG’s global network of clubs, which currently includes US Major League Soccer’s New York City FC, Chinese third-tier side Sichuan Jiuniu as well as investments in Japan, Australia, Spain and Uruguay.

CFG chair Khaldoon Al Mubarak, one of Abu Dhabi’s most powerful officials, said: “We believe that this investment will deliver transformative benefits to Mumbai City FC, to City Football Group and to Indian football as a whole.”

Mumbai City was founded in 2014 and was owned by Bollywood actor and producer Ranbir Kapoor and his business partner Bimal Parekh. The pair will retain a 35 per cent share in the club.

The club played in the inaugural season of the Indian Super League. The competition was founded by Reliance Industries, the conglomerate controlled by Mukesh Ambani, the Star Sports Indian TV network and IMG, a division of US talent agency Endeavor.

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Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan, a billionaire businessman and member of the Abu Dhabi royal family, bought Manchester City in 2008. He has spent hundreds of millions of pounds on world class footballers in an effort to turn the club into a global force capable of winning the sport’s biggest prizes.

He went further to create CFG in 2013, starting a spending spree on other clubs around the world. To date, Manchester City, with a first team led by manager Pep Guardiola, is the only profitable club within the global network.

The $500m stake sale to Silver Lake, signed on Saturday and first reported by the Financial Times earlier this week, comes even as Manchester City is threatened by an investigation by Uefa, European football’s governing body, into alleged breaches of “financial fair play” rules designed to stop clubs overspending in the pursuit of silverware.

In May, Uefa investigators looking into claims that the English club had masked funding from its Middle Eastern owner recommended the team be banned from the Champions League, where participating clubs share in more than €2bn in prize money, for at least one season. A final ruling by Uefa is expected in December.

Silver Lake decided CFG was still worth $4.8bn even after taking into consideration the risk of lost revenues from a Champions League ban.