Birmingham City Soccer Club Holds Sale Talks With Two Parties

Birmingham City’s Hong Kong-based owners said they’re in talks with two possible buyers of the English soccer team.

The club was relegated from the elite Premier League in 2011, a month before its largest shareholder, Carson Yeung, was arrested in Hong Kong on money laundering charges.

Parent company Birmingham International Holdings Ltd. (2309) said in a statement to the Hong Kong stock exchange yesterday that talks with the unidentified parties, who signed confidentiality agreements and received due diligence materials, are at an early stage. Shares in the company were suspended in June 2011.

“To the best of the board’s knowledge, information and belief, having made all reasonable enquiries, the prospective buyers and their ultimate beneficial owners are third parties independent of the company and its connected persons,” the company said.

Birmingham -- previously controlled by David and Ralph Gold, and David Sullivan -- was bought by Yeung in October 2009 in an 81.5 million-pound ($131 million) deal.

Yeung, a former hairdresser, will go on trial in November after being charged in June 2011 with five counts of dealing with property “known or believed to represent proceeds of an indictable offense” with a total value of HK$721.3 million ($93 million), according to documents read in a Hong Kong court. Yeung, 51, denies the charges.

Soccer authorities imposed a transfer embargo on the team after it failed to submit accounts for 2011.

International Investments

At a 2007 press conference, Yeung said he had investments in energy, hotels and property. An October 2009 statement by Birmingham City Football Club said Yeung has “accumulated many years of experience in international investment” and was chairman of Hong Kong Rangers Football Club from 2005 to 2006.

Birmingham was relegated three months after winning the League Cup, its first major trophy in 48 years. The team is 21st in the second tier Championship after 10 games, one place above the relegation zone.

The case is Hong Kong Special Administrative Region and Yeung Ka-sing Carson, ESCC2717/2011 in the Hong Kong Eastern Magistrates’ Court.

To contact the reporters on this story: Tariq Panja in London at bbensch@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Christopher Elser at celser@bloomberg.net.

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