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Birmingham Owner Carson Yeung Increases Stake in Soccer Team

Birmingham City’s biggest shareholder, Carson Yeung, increased his stake in the Premier League soccer club to 24.9 percent, the team’s parent company said in a statement to the Hong Kong Stock Exchange.

Yeung acquired 315,000,000 shares in Birmingham International Holdings in a private transaction for an undisclosed amount from an “independent third party” through his company Great Luck Management Ltd., the statement said.

The announcement comes as League Cup winner Birmingham’s long-term financial structure is being examined by the Premier League after auditors for the soccer team cast doubt over its future.

On March 22 BIH completed a share sale, underwritten by Kingston Financial Group, controlled by businesswoman Pollyanna Chu, which raised HK$87 million ($11 million), or 12.4 percent of the shares outstanding.

When Birmingham filed its accounts for the year ended June 30, 2010, the club said it needed to raise 24.7 million pounds ($40.3 million) to continue operating within its agreed banking facilities.

Yeung loaned “an additional” 4 million pounds to the team in March, which was intended “to quell recent media reports raising financial uncertainty against the club which came as a result of journalistic-induced scaremongering,” acting chairman Peter Pannu said last month.

In an interview this week Chu, who has interests in the Macau gaming industry, said she’s happy to help Yeung if the team needs funding. She described the Birmingham City owner as a friend of more than ten years.

Finance Concerns

Birmingham also needs to convince European soccer’s governing body about its finances. It qualified for the Europa League after beating Arsenal in the League Cup final in February for its first major trophy in 48 years. UEFA’s club licensing policy requires teams with questions about their accounts to explain how they will continue to operate.

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

The team is 16th in the 20-team Premier League after 30 games. If it finishes in the bottom three, it would be relegated to the second division.

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