A billionaire businessman with major interests in cryptocurrency missed the final bidding deadline for Chelsea FC, after his lawyers sent the bid to the wrong email address.
Upon learning of the failure on Friday, Turkish businessman Muhsin Bayrak told Reuters news agency: “I am very upset.”
Bayrak made his personal $10 billion fortune as chairman of AB Group, which operates in the fields of construction, tourism, energy and cryptocurrency. AB Group has its own exchange, ABStocks, with the concomitant cryptocurrency AB Group Coin.
The billionaire has been linked to the purchase of Chelsea FC for several weeks now, with the businessman vowing to fly the flag of Turkey over London. Bayrak even went as far as to meet with current owner Roman Abramovich in Istanbul. Despite this, the bid collapsed in bizarre fashion when the Bayrak’s lawyers submitted the application to the wrong email address.
Rather than submit their bid to Raine Bank, the US investment bank handling applications for the application process, lawyers acting on behalf of AB Group used a generic email address to file an inquiry with the UK Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport.
The error meant that no official bid was received by Raine Bank on time, disqualifying Muhsin Bayrak and AB Group from continuing further in the process.
Questions of competence and legitimacy
The bizarre nature of the Bayrak’s failure has led to fan speculation that the businessman never intended to buy the club, and instead entered the bidding process purely as a publicity stunt. That argument would seem to be countered by two facts: firstly, that Bayrak went as far as to personally discuss a deal with Abramovich in Istanbul, and secondly, that the public nature of the failure does AB Group little credit.
Despite this, the inexplicable and disastrous execution of the AB Group’s bid continues to fuel questions about Muhsin Bayrak and his sincerity. According to Reuters, Turkish media has openly questioned whether Bayrak and AB Group had the required capital to finance the takeover deal.
Chelsea FC is valued at somewhere between £2-3 billion making its acquisition a highly costly endeavor.
Details of Bayrak’s proposal suggest that the businessman had intended to buy the football club with £1 billion in cash and a further £400 million in AB Group Coin, a cryptocurrency created by Bayrak. AB Group Coin is a somewhat obscure cryptocurrency, and is not listed on either CoinMarketCap or CoinGecko. Bayrak also offered to transfer significant real estate to Abramovich to further sweeten the deal.
In the end however, Bayrak’s wooing of Abramovich was doomed to failure after the British government placed sanctions on the Russian.
War in Ukraine
Chelsea FC continues to be owned by Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich, who has been severely sanctioned by the UK government following Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine. The sanctions allow Chelsea FC to operate only in a very limited capacity. The blues cannot currently sell any more tickets for games or merchandise, and the club is blocked from buying or selling players on the transfer market.
As part of the long list of sanctions Abramovich must now sell the club, something which he had already planned to do. The key difference for Abramovich is that he will no longer be able to personally profit from any sale.
Bayrak’s lawyers may have already counted the Turkish billionaire out, but there are plenty of other takers for the club. It is believed that Raine Bank has received over 30 offers for the club which won 21 honors under Abramovich, including six Premier League titles and two Champions League trophies.
Among the bidders are UK property developer Nick Candy, leading a consortium which includes South Korea’s Hana Financial Group, and the Ricketts family who own the Chicago Cubs. Todd Boehly, part-owner of the LA Dodgers, heads another group in contention for the team.
A bid by the Saudi Media Group, which was reported to be late by some media outlets has since been confirmed as on time.
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