Tuesday, 4 November 2014

Blue is the colour for a red rainmaker

Looking over last week's coverage of Christian Purslow's appointment as the new commercial boss of Chelsea FC it struck me that little has been made of the former City dealmaker's past career in the Square Mile and what that might mean for the Premier League club.

I remember Purslow from when he was at private equity firm Mid Ocean Partners, doing deals such as the £150m leveraged buy-out of LA Fitness. Prior to Mid Ocean, Purslow worked as a high-flying investment banker at Schroders and Credit Suisse.

It was no shock to some of my top-level private equity contacts when he left the buy-out industry to become managing director of Liverpool Football Club in 2009 as he was renowned in the City for being a die-hard fan of the Merseyside team.

I was, though, a little surprised to see him appointed last week as "head of global commercial activities" at Chelsea (for readers that don't know me well, I have supported the Pensioners since I was a kid).

After mulling over Purslow's appointment, I couldn't help wonder whether it might have something to do with Roman Abramovich's quest for a new stadium. As we all know, Chelsea failed to get hold of Battersea Power Station to develop a 60,000 seat stadium and now the talk is Roman plans to renovate Stamford Bridge.

However, back in 2012 scribblers round at Deutsche Bank raised the prospect of Roman bidding for Capital & Counties, the owners of Earls Court. Martin Allen's idea was that Abramovich could bid for the listed property company to get hold of the Earls Court site and then sell off the remaining property assets.

Here is a link to my coverage of the Deutsche Bank note back in 2012:


Admittedly, that was when Capital & Counties shares were trading 229p compared to 341p today. But  Purslow would certainly be a good candidate to run such as an audacious tilt at Capital & Counties if that is indeed what Abramovich is plotting...

Disclaimer: I have no idea whether Abramovich is actually plotting a bid for Capital & Counties or Earls Court.


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