Powerleague shrugs off new bid talk

POWERLEAGUE, Britain&rsquo;s biggest operator of five-a-side football, yesterday shrugged off rumours that sports fashion retailer JD Sports was plotting to gatecrash its &pound;42.5m takeover.<br /><br />Earlier this month Powerleague agreed to a takeover offer from its biggest shareholder, Patron, which owns 29 per cent.<br /><br />Its executive chairman, Claude Littner, a close friend and colleague of Apprentice star Lord Sugar, stands to make &pound;2.6m from the deal.<br /><br />Littner, a former Amstrad and Tottenham Hotspur chief executive, led a management buyout of Powerleague from investment firm 3i in 2003 and owns 6.1 per cent.<br /><br />Littner is set to resign on completion of the deal, but will work as a consultant for six months. Current chief executive Sean Tracey, who owns four per cent of the firm, will stay and exchange his stake for shares in Patron.<br /><br />Patron took a stake in Powerleague last year when it bought 29 per cent of the company. <br /><br />It was founded in 1999 by Keith Breslauer &ndash; the former head of the principle finance unit of Lehman Brothers &ndash;&nbsp; the collapsed US investment bank. It has invested about &euro;1.7bn (&pound;1.56bn) on behalf of institutional clients in Britain and America and is particularly famed for its property investments.<br /><br />Powerleague shareholders are due to vote on the deal early next month.<br /><br />The latest results from Powerleague showed pre-tax profits edging up four per cent to &pound;5.4m in the year to 4 July.