Everton takeover in real doubt as 777 Partners-owned firm enters administration and advisors left unpaid

The investment firm attempting to purchase Everton has seen one of its businesses fall into voluntary administration, with the company also understood to have failed to pay various advisors and suppliers.

Miami-based 777 Partners, who agreed to acquire Farhad Moshiri’s 94.1% stake in the club back in September of last year, saw its low-cost Australian domestic airline Bonza enter administration on Tuesday after its entire fleet was repossessed, leaving passengers stranded at airports across the country.

Bonza’s aircraft have been seized by AIP Capital, an investment company part of the portfolio of one of 777’s main lenders, A-CAP, in an effort to recoup money owed to investors, according to the Sydney Morning Herald. 777 Partners had originally bought the aircraft and issued long-term leases to Bonza during the pandemic, routinely moving aircraft between the Bonza and Flair, a Canadian low-cost airline that it also part-owns.

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In April, AIP Capital announced the formation of a new holding company to lease aircraft, Phoenix Aviation Capital, with PAC at the time that they had reached “a definitive agreement to acquire the rights, interests and obligations of a portfolio of 30 737-8 aircraft from 777 Partners”

“We have been informed this morning that effective 03:00 today that all our aircraft have had repossession proceedings commenced by AIP Capital, the aircraft lessor,” Bonza chief executive Tim Jordan revealed to staff in an email.

“This was a surprise to both ourselves and 777 Partners. We are currently assessing all options and will provide an update here just as soon as we have more information available to share. As a consequence to this, all first wave flights from all bases have been cancelled.”

It is the latest setback to hit 777 Partners, who last month were granted ‘conditional approval’ to acquire Everton provided that they could meet four requirements.

They were: that 777 loans to the club 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 Sports Capital, the New York-based investment firm that had provided capital to Everton last year before 777 came on the scene.

777 Partners were granted a temporary extension to repay MSP, with the maturity date of the loan having been a fortnight ago, but that extension was said by sources to be “weeks not months”.

777 Partners had been providing funding to Everton for working capital, to the tune of around £200m, since the turn of the year. That money was to allow for the club to meet construction costs on the new stadium build at Bramley Moore Dock, as well as payroll obligations. Investigative website Josimar claims that the latest tranche of funding has not been forthcoming.

A string of missed payment deadlines and stories of monies owed has followed 777 Partners around ever since they were revealed as the preferred bidder for the club, in relation to their other football interests and wider investment portfolio.

One of the main concerns for the Premier League has been around the proof of funding for the takeover. 777 Partners has been making its interest-bearing loan payments to Everton through funding from investment firm A-CAP, which was last month told to find a way to reduce its exposure to 777 Partners by regulators in two US states.

On Tuesday, sources told the ECHO that various advisors and suppliers to 777 Partners have also now gone unpaid, as the company scrambles for financing to make its deal to acquire Everton work.

777 Partners representatives could not be reached when contacted by the ECHO.