Financial

Who Owns West Ham?

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In January 2010 David Sullivan purchased a 50% controlling share in West ham United for £52.5 million with CB Holdings representing the Icelandic banks including Straumur retaining the remaining 50%. David Sullivan later split his share holding on a 50/50 with his long term business partner David Gold.

In May 2010 the two Davids increased their share holding to 60% investing an addition £8 million. £4 million of that investment is said to have gone straight to CB Holdings with the remaining £4 million being fed back into the club.

Terry Brown

In August 2010 WHUFC.com released a statement saying they had found new investors in the shape of John Harris CBE and Daniel Harris founders of Alba group who are lifelong West Ham fans. Also included in this group is the infamous Terence Brown, former Chairman of the club. Daniel Harris joined the West Ham board as a non executive director to represent these new investors and Terence Brown was made Honorary Life President of the club following his investment.

John Harris

Their investment of £4 million was believed to be in return for 3.8% of the shares owned by CB Holdings. At the same time the two Davids increased their share holding to 30.6% each (an increase of 1.2% of the shares between them).

It is known that Terry Brown made £33.4 million from his original sale of West Ham shares to the Icelandic’s and received over a £1 million salary in his final year as West Ham chairman. His original investment into West Ham in the nineties is thought to have been in the region of just £2 million when he took over from the Cearns family. As a twist of fate the two Davids also originally owned 27% of West Ham which they purchased from Jack Petchey in the late eighties. The two Davids later sold their shares to Terry Brown but David Sullivan retained 4% right up to their compulsory sale when the Icelandic’s took over in 2006.

Daniel Harris

The Harris family owned the Alba group, a consumer electronics company with well known brand names including Alba, Bush, Grundig & Goodmans. Their net worth today is said to be over £150 million.

Bringing the story up to date, David Sullivan recently acquired a further 25% of shares in West Ham this July as part of a £25.5m restructuring of the club’s debt. The deal is thought to involve a swap of debt for equity after David Sullivan & David Gold lent West Ham £35 million in the form of personal loans with £1 million per annum of roll over interest as disclosed in the 2012 financial accounts.

The share holdings now stand at:

1. David Sullivan: 55.6%
2. David Gold: 30.6%
3. CB Holdings representing Straumur & other Icelandic banks 10%
4. John Harris, Daniel Harris and Terence Brown: 3.8%

Karen Brady claimed in an interview with the Times in 2012 she also has a ‘small shareholding’ in West ham but it is not clear whether that is included within the two Davids combined 86.2% share or as part of the 3.8% owned by the other investors.

Bob Ellis

During the recent purchase of extra shares non executive director Bob Ellis resigned from the board. Bob is a management consultant who describes himself as a restructuring specialist on his Linkedin profile. It was likely he represented the interests of CB Holdings until recently.

Andrew Bernhardt

A new non Executive director was appointed to the West Ham board in July. He is the former Non Executive West Ham chairman Andrew Bernhardt who now represents CB Holding remaining 10% share holding in the club.

Some have questioned the timing of the recent purchase of extra shares. In a recent interview with KUMB David Sullivan explained there was a deadline to purchase a further 25% of shares but after speaking with Financial Fair Play expert Ed Thompson of www.financialfairplay.co.uk I believe the actions could also be related with a desire to comply with UEFA Financial Fair Play rules which if nothing else shows ambition that the board believe we could qualify for Europe via one route or another this season.

UEFA’s rules require our losses to be below 45 million Euros over the 2011/12 and 2012/13 season combined. Any loss above 5 million Euros for the two seasons combined has to be covered by an injection of equity.

Before the latest injection of equity by David Sullivan it is likely West ham did not comply with UEFA FFP rules.

David Gold  Karren Brady David Sullivan

If West Ham did not comply with these rules then we would be not be eligible to play in UEFA competitions next season. We have to apply to UEFA in advance. If you wait until you qualify it would be too late.

So maybe a top five or six position is a bit too ambitious this season but a good cup to be crowned as League cup winners or even FA Cup winners or runners up might be more within our grasp for an unlikely UEFA place next season!

Further information on UEFA Financial Fair Play can be found at www.financialfairplay.co.uk


Financial

West Ham's Pay Day Loans with Vibrac Corporation

On Wednesday the Sun carried a small story that was probably missed by most football fans. The unassuming piece explained that West Ham had cleared its existing loan with the mysterious Vibrac Corporation and then immediately took out a new loan which they claimed could be as much as £70 million.

In March this year, Nick Harris from the Daily Mail wrote a story how West Ham had reached an agreement with this offshore lending company in the British Virgin Islands to borrow all £60million of our current season’s Premier League television money in advance.Nick claimed at the time that the revelation that West Ham set up this facility in September last year underlined why West Ham’s owners were at the forefront of campaigners within the League’s 20 clubs to bring in Financial Fair Play spending restrictions on wages this season.

Stories about the Vibrac Corporation are nothing new. Everton borrowed £13 million back in 2011 at a rate of 10% interest and have renewed that facility every year since.
A copy of the Everton mortgage documentation for that transaction filed with companies house can be found here

It is not known who owns the Vibrac corporation but they are based in the same building as BCR Sports, the company through which Robert Earl controls his stake in Everton FC.

In April 2012, a facility was also provided to Southampton by the Vibrac Corporation. Saints fans called for transparency over a mysterious financial document lodged by the club at Companies House at the time.

In April this year, a similar facility was also provided to Fulham to enable the club to borrow against future guaranteed income. However it is claimed this facility was settled early when Shahid Khan purchased Fulham last month.In the Fulham transaction they authorised the Premier League to pay £16million into Vibrac’s account with Barclays. Fulham put up Craven Cottage itself as security for the loan. In the draft mortgage document submitted to Companies House, an accountant named Robert Heppel is named as a witness to Vibrac’s side of the agreement.

So if the Daily Mail & Sun stories about West Ham’s dealings with Vibrac are taken at face value we could have borrowed up to £130 million as ‘pay day loans’ from Vibrac Corporation over 2 years and we could be paying as much as £13 million in interest if the 10% fee from Everton 2011 loan is anything to go by.

If the interest paid by West Ham is anything close to £13 million I see many questions being asked of our board of directors .

All should be made clear soon as WH Holding Ltd will need to submit their financial accounts year ending 31st May 2013. The first loan and any interest paid will need to be declared in those accounts.

Last year’s accounts weren’t published on the companies house website until 28th Feb this year so we have some time to wait before we know the true extent and scale of our mysterious dealing with Vibrac Corporation.

Note from Iain: I’d like to welcome Sean to the site. He will be posting regular articles on the finances of West Ham.


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