Southampton name mystery bidder

Last updated at 07:51 25 October 2007

Southampton have this morning named the mystery bidder involved in early takeover negotiations.

Earlier this week Saints confirmed they have entered into negotiations with "a major UK-based investment company" to become the "majority shareholder" of the club.

And in a Stock Exchange statement this morning, Southampton Leisure Holdings revealed the company is SISU Capital Limited, thought to be a London-based investment firm.

The club have not disclosed the role of former Manchester City full-back Ray Ranson in the negotiations.

Ranson is thought to be involved in fronting the bid, though he would not assume a role on the board at St Mary's should any takeover be completed.

Ranson, previously linked with buy-outs at Aston Villa and Manchester City, has seemingly been advising SISU on football matters but only at a low-key level and sources this week said there is no desire for the former full-back to play any active role on the Southampton board should negotiations reach a successful conclusion.

However, Ranson's input, along with financial advisors Altium Capital, is thought to be crucial to the deal going through.

Today's Southampton statement to the Stock Exchange said: "Following recent press speculation and further to the announcement made on 22 October 2007, the board of Southampton confirms that it is in discussions with SISU Capital Limited and their advisers regarding a possible investment in the company.

"The indicative subject to a number of conditions which have yet to be satisfied including the completion of satisfactory due diligence by SISU and the approval of shareholders of Southampton.

"SISU intends to become a majority shareholder in Southampton but has indicated in its offer that it would be willing to make a tender offer to existing shareholders of the Company provided that such tender offer did not lead to it becoming a minority shareholder.

"As stated previously, any investment by SISU would be a long-term commitment driven by its desire to place the company in a position to maximise the club's opportunity of promotion to the Barclays Premier League.

"No shareholder has yet indicated support for the proposals set out above. If SISU is to make a formal offer to the shareholders of the company, it has stated its desire to do so only with the full support of the board and shareholders of Southampton."

Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen has long been linked with a takeover but this morning's statement said: "The board can also confirm it has not received a formal offer from Paul Allen."

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