Everton takeover battle assessed with five parties interested amid huge £400m bid and fresh twist

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - APRIL 27: A general view of fans flags and banners in the Gwaldys Street Stand before the Premier League match between Everton FC and Brentford FC at Goodison Park on April 27, 2024 in Liverpool, England. (Photo by Tony McArdle/Everton FC via Getty Images)
-Credit: (Image: Tony McArdle/Everton FC via Getty Images)

Potential new Everton owners continue to line up after 777 Partners' efforts to acquire the Blues collapsed.

The Miami-based investment group saw their deal with owner Farhad Moshiri fall through after they failed to meet the deadline over their shared purchase agreement with the club’s majority shareholder. As a result, the British-Iranian businessman could enter negotiations with other interested bidders.

With the opportunity to take over Everton as they enter their final year at Goodison Park before embarking on a new journey at the Bramley Moore Dock Stadium. However, news of the collapse involving 777 has sparked an influx of interested parties in taking over the Blues.

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US billionaire Dan Friedkin, Vatche Manoukian, Andy Bell and George Downing are among the names interested in taking ownership of the Blues but who are they are what has been reported?

Andy Bell and George Downing

Andy Bell and George Downing emerged as potential contenders to take over Everton; both are successful businessmen and supporters of the Blues.

Bell’s Blythe Capital played a role in securing funding for the stadium development last year. They both were prominent in MSP Sports Capital’s bid to take a 25 percent stake that could have been a foundation for further investment.

While 777 struck an agreement with Moshiri over MSP, the consortium still lent more than £150m to help Everton meet costs related to the Bramley-Moore Dock project.

Bell is the founder and former chief executive of the investment giant AJ Bell, which he led for two decades before stepping down in 2022. The 58-year-old businessman went to school in Rainford and studied at the University of Nottingham.

Downing, 61, is the founder of Downing, a business that started in construction and has since expanded into property management and other areas. The firm has been involved in developing student accommodation schemes to the value of around £1bn.

It is involved in projects from London to Newcastle and formerly took over the historic Port of Liverpool building, one of the city’s Three Graces, overseeing a multi-million pound restoration.

What has been reported?

The ECHO understands that they're both in discussions about spearheading a new bid to take control of the Blues from majority shareholder Farhad Moshiri.

Moshiri is on the hunt for an exit route once again after the collapse of a bid from 777 Partners marked the end of a third period of exclusive talks without resolution in two years.

The British-Iranian businessman's intentions will dictate what happens next. He has said he received unsolicited approaches throughout his dealings with 777 Partners but remained convinced the group was the best option.

It has been previously reported that Bell and Downing were engaging with specialists as they consider external funding options that would enable them to front a bid for Everton. They were frontrunners for board positions in the first MSP deal after forming part of that effort.

Bell is listed as the sole director of a new vehicle called Toffee Ventures, a private company that was incorporated last month and is listed on Companies House as a business within the bracket of sports and recreation education.

Michael Dell

Michael Saul Dell is the founder of Dell Technologies, one of the world’s largest technology infrastructure companies. It has been said that the Texan businessman is the 10th richest man in the world, with Bloomberg's billionaire index reporting that Dell’s net worth is $106billion, placing him 14th among the world’s most wealthy individuals.

What has been reported?

Sky Sports News reported this week that there are now five interested parties looking to purchase wantaway majority shareholder Moshiri’s 94.1 per cent stake in the club.

One of the bids is spearheaded by the aforementioned lifelong Evertonians, Andy Bell and George Downing, but among those backing them is the MS Dell office.

"The current Everton owner, Farhad Moshiri, is reviewing bids, and he's expected to grant a period of exclusivity to one of the bidders in the next few days," said Sky Sports' Kaveh Solekhol. "What I can confirm is that the bid of Bell and Downing has been lodged with Farhad Moshiri and it is a very serious bid.

"They are serious players, and they are backed by the reported $120bn fortune of the MS Dell family office. The cash is in place, and the two businessmen are ready and motivated to do the deal as quickly as possible, and they want to get on with the business of restoring Everton."

John Textor and Eagle Football Holdings

John Textor is the Crystal Palace co-owner and emerged as a possible candidate to take over Everton after making his views on the club public.

The American businessman boasts Brazilian side Botafogo and French team Lyon on his portfolio but is said to be looking to sell his stake in the South London club after failing to earn a majority shareholding of the Premier League club - as he currently owns 45 per cent of the outfit.

Textor and his Eagle Football group boast that they are a 'family of global football organisations with top-tier clubs and elite academies.'

What has been reported?

Despite Textor's public comments about taking over at Everton, he would be unable to due to his ownership of Crystal Palace. While they are looking to sell their share in the club, it will likely be months before he can put his name into the Everton hat as he will need to relinquish control at Selhurst Park before making any further approaches.

Dan Friedkin

Dan Friedkin is another American billionaire who is said to be among the runners and riders looking to acquire one of England's most historic clubs.

The Texan isn't unfamiliar to the world of football and he is the current owner of Serie A giants AS Roma. Friedkin will enter his fourth year of ownership in the Italian capital after purchasing the club for £591million for a stake of 96 percent in the club in 2020.

He owns Gulf States Toyota, a company based out of Houston that holds exclusive rights to distribute Toyota vehicles in Texas, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Oklahoma. The company's hold in the car industry in those states led to sales worth $9.1billion (£7.1billion) of Toyotas in 2022, which saw his personal net worth skyrocket.

In 2020, Forbes estimated the 59-year-old's net worth to be $3.3billion (£2.5billion), but that has seen steady growth year-on-year since then, leading to their 2024 estimation of double that - a $6.4billion (£5billion) net worth.

The American's other ventures include a luxury hospitality management firm Auberge Resorts, which has properties in Aspen, Colorado and Cabo San Lucas in Mexico, as well as Costa Rica, Europe, the Caribbean, and Fiji, plus a conservation fund that looks to protect millions of acres of endangered wildlife areas and stimulate community development in East Africa.

What has been reported?

The BBC reported on Saturday that the Roma owner has emerged as one of a number of parties interested in a takeover of Everton.

The businessman, who has a reported net worth of £4.8bn, is said to be aiming for an exclusivity agreement to purchase current owner Farhad Moshiri's 94% stake in the club.

Additionally, Gazzetta dello Sport reported: "Dan Friedkin's interest in the world of football is increasingly expanding.

"In fact, in recent days, the Giallorossi president presented an offer to Farhad Moshiri, the Iranian businessman, for the purchase of Everton, Liverpool's second team, which has been playing in the Premier League since 1954.

"The official figures are not yet known, but the interest is. Exactly like the offer, which arrived on the table of the owner of the Anglo-Saxon club together with five other expressions of interest.

"The Friedkin Group, therefore, wants to expand into the world of international football, following in the footsteps of what other groups are already doing.

"The objective is to create a galaxy of clubs that can be part of Roma (the current family jewel in the world of sport) and that also create important synergies with it.

"Not only at the level of exchange of players, valorization but also of market and commercial strategies. In fact, the offer presented by Dan Friedkin to Moshiri does not in any case foresee a possible disengagement of the Texan ownership in the Giallorossi club. On the contrary."

Vatche Manoukian

Vatche Manoukian is the son of a Lebanese-born entertainment and property tycoon of the same name from the Armenian diaspora in Beirut.

Manoukian is a partner in global technology investment firm IMS Digital Ventures and his bid group includes investors from the Gulf and the United States.

The 45-year-old is a partner in global technology investment firm IMS Digital Ventures. He obtained his Bachelor of Laws from University College London and the LPC from The College of Law, London.

Manoukian began his professional career in the UK as a Project Finance lawyer at Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner before moving to the US to help a private family office build, develop and operate one of the world's largest and most successful gaming and entertainment companies.

He leveraged his experience with building businesses and project execution to start investing in and joining the boards of early-stage CPG marketing platform ventures such as Wecheer.IO and renewable energy technology ventures such as Standard Gas Technologies.

Manoukian’s family have been awarded for their philanthropic ventures, supporting major humanitarian, educational, cultural and religious programmes across the world.

What has been reported?

Matt Slater of The Athletic has reported that Manoukian has tabled a £400million all-equity bid for Everton. In the report, it has been said that there are three firm bids already on the table for Moshiri to consider.

MSP Sports Capital

Everton supporters will be aware of MSP Sports Capital following their previous pursuit in acquiring ownership of the club.

In March, the Premier League granted conditional approval to 777 Partners to take over, provided that four caveats were met.

Those were: that 777 loans to the club, now totalling more than £200m in junior debt, have to be converted into equity; funds are required in an escrow account to meet financial obligations for the remainder of the season; proof of funding for the new stadium completion; and a £158m loan to be repaid to MSP, the New York firm that had loaned Everton money last year for the stadium build.

The loan from MSP had a maturity date of April 15, with 777 having had to scramble to persuade MSP to extend the loan repayment, something that the firm reluctantly agreed to, although that extension was said to be ‘weeks not months’.

The investment firm led by billionaire Jahm Najafi and former sports super agent Jeff Moorad, came on the scene in early 2023 after they were in talks to take a 25 per cent stake in the club through convertible debt.

However, that deal was rejected by one of Everton’s largest creditors, Rights and Media Funding Limited, who objected on the grounds that the deal could dilute their own security.

What has been reported?

MSP’s loan was secured against Moshiri’s Blue Heaven Holdings Limited, the company that owns Everton, with the New York-based firm having had the option to take a controlling interest in the event of a default of the loan repayment.

That did not happen, but MSP were previously said to be assessing whether acquiring the club may now be the best course of action given the increasing likelihood of the 777 deal collapsing imminently.

MSP were due to have an element of operational control at board level had the initial 25 percent deal gone through last year, which ended up just being a straight loan to the club, and with so much capital tied up in the club, they may now see it as the best course of action in order to protect their investment and gain a greater return.

On Sunday, The Athletic revealed that MSP has put together a new group with a view to taking full control of the club. The bid is believed to be a complex mix of equity and debt.

The latest twist in the Everton takeover saga is that the new bid from MSP is different from the previous one, despite being partners with Bell and Downing.