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Football: Lim still in running to acquire Valencia

Singapore billionaire Peter Lim is still in the running to acquire Spanish Primera Liga side Valencia CF. 

SINGAPORE – Billionaire Peter Lim, 60, is still in the running to acquire Spanish Primera Liga side Valencia CF.

This comes barely a week after Spanish and local media reported that the Singapore businessman did not provide any documentation "which fulfilled any of the 14 due diligence requirements" requested by creditors Bankia, and thus ruled out of the bidding process.

But TODAY understands that recent developments suggested that Lim's bid to buy 70 per cent of the share belonging to Valencia Foundation is still very much in consideration by the football club.

This was revealed at a recent extraordinary general meeting (EGM) organised by Valencia which was attended by some 7,000 people. The Spanish club had called the meeting to reveal the developments of the club's acquisition and to speak of Lim's interest to invest in the club and to pay off the 300-million-euro (S$519 million) debt it owes creditor Bankia.

At the EGM which lasted close to two hours, Valencia CF President, Amadeo Salvo, harshly criticised Bankia and its consulting firm KPMG as the crowd cheered for him, and booed Bankia.

Said Salvo: "If Bankia wanted to sell its credit, it is more than welcomed to do so. However, if Bankia wanted to sell the club, it will have to enforce the shares pledge. Until such time, Bankia is not entitled to sell the club, which belongs to the shareholders."

It is also understood Lim's offer was put up on the table for discussion, and Lim is the only one who has bid for the club - dismissing rumours that Qatari Investment Authority (QIA) and American investment fund TPG have also submitted bids.

Salvo also called for Bankia to reveal the sale proceedings to the club. He said: "Bankia's process is not transparent. Bankia refused to let Valencia know who the 'alleged' offers came from and what are their terms of offer."

On Wednesday night, the club also announced that a committee will be set up to immediately manage the sales process of the club. It will be made up of four representatives, namely one from Bankia and consulting firm KPMG, one named by PricewaterhouseCoopers, and one from Valencia Foundation and Valencia CF each. It is understood that Valencia CF has informed Bankia that it is in control of the club's sales process.

Aurelio Martinez, President of the Valencia Foundation, revealed that the committee has until Feb 24 to receive all binding offers. He said: "This includes the ones that have potentially have existed under the previous process of KPMG and others and any new ones. KPMG will provide all up to date information that they have received.

"The management committee will then meet with the President of Valencia CF, the President of the Foundation Valencia CF, and the Finance Minister of the Generalitat Valenciana to present those offers in detail, and have a full consensual decision from those three (shortlisted) parties regarding who is the best offer for Valencia CF. This decision will happen shortly after 24th of February."

Meanwhile, there have been at least five twitter accounts set up by fans of Valencia CF who backed Lim's case to acquire the club. One account even named him "Sir Peter Lim".

A source close to Peter Lim said: "Peter has never left the fray. His offer to buy the club on 10 December was made after he was approached by the club, and after meeting the Foundation, the Club management, the President of City of Valencia and Bankia.

"It is an offer to help build a winning team and put the club on a sound financial footing. It is a simple and straight forward offer. Peter is very amused by the many recent stories about the Bankia/KPMG process and the purported bids by Abu Dhabi's Mubadala, QIA, and TPG."

The club is expected to hold an extraordinary Shareholder General Assembly in March to provide transparency on the decision process and the identity of the winning bid to all stakeholders, including its minority shareholders.

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