Lerner ready to sell Villa and hopeful of £200m

ASTON Villa owner Randy Lerner is hopeful of fetching as much as £200m for the club after officially putting them up for sale yesterday.

The American, who bought Villa for £63m eight years ago and has spent around £90m net on transfer fees, said he felt it was time “to look for new leadership” for the Premier League outfit.

Mohamed Al Fayed pocketed between £150m and £200m when he sold Fulham to Shahid Khan last summer, and it is understood that Lerner has been told Villa could attract similar bids.

Lerner is being advised on the sale by Bank of America Merrill Lynch, while it is believed that football takeover specialist Keith Harris, who was involved in Lerner’s acquisition, is also working on the deal.

Villa finished 15th in the top flight for the second season in succession on Sunday, though with three fewer points than last term.

Yet there remains optimism among those close to Lerner that ever-increasing broadcast revenues, which have banked Villa around £70m this term, and the deflationary effect on transfer fees and player wages of European and domestic cost-control rules make the club an attractive proposition to would-be buyers.

BEHIND THE DEAL
BANK OF AMERICA MERRILL LYNCH

1 Aston Villa owner Randy Lerner has recruited the talents of Bank of America Merrill Lynch’s London-based dealmaker Peter Bell and his Los Angeles counterpart Joshua Whipple to help sell the Birmingham football club

2 Bell joined Bank of America Merrill Lynch as managing director for mergers and acquisitions in its investment banking team in 2011 from rival bank Nomura, joining former Nomura bankers Christian Meissner and Adrian Mee. Whipple joined the US bank as a director in the summer of 2008 having spent three years as vice president at Bear Stearns

3 Bell has previously worked on the Terra Firma takeover of EMI, HMV’s acquisition of live music business Mama Group, and also worked on this year’s float of Pets at Home. Bank of America Merrill Lynch’s M&A team are also currently working on Pfizer’s approach for AstraZeneca and last year also worked on Verizon’s deal with Vodafone

Also advising...
Football finance guru Keith Harris is also thought to be reprising his role with Aston Villa as an adviser. He previously advised Lerner on the original deal to buy out the stake of former chairman Sir Doug Ellis
MICHAEL BOW