Bill Kenwright will sell half his Everton stake in Farhad Moshiri deal

• Robert Earl will offload his complete stake of 23%
• Kenwright and Woods make up most of the remaining 26.9%

The Everton chairman, Bill Kenwright, is selling half his 26% shareholding as part of the deal by which the investor Farhad Moshiri is buying 49.9% of the club. Agreed after a long search by Kenwright for a wealthy investor, the deal values Everton at £175m, which means Kenwright will be paid £22.75m for the approximate 13% stake he is selling now. Kenwright is staying on as chairman and Moshiri has an option to buy a majority stake in future circumstances which have not been publicly disclosed.

The American Robert Earl, founder of the Planet Hollywood chain, is selling all his 23% Everton stake which he has owned since 2006 without playing an active role in the club, for which he will be paid £40.25m. The other approximate 13% Moshiri will buy is being sold by Jon Woods, a local director who founded the computer entertainment company Ocean Software, and another minority shareholder, the Guardian understands.

Kenwright is believed to have paid around £9m for his shareholding and in his 16 years as the Everton chairman has never been paid a salary or expenses. While he has worked to maintain Everton as a solidly performing Premier League club and stabilise the finances, Kenwright has said for years that he was looking for the right financial backer to enable them to compete with England’s richer clubs. Their most recent accounts, for the year to 31 May 2015, show income of £126m, a small loss due to signing players, and a slight increase in net debt to £31.3m.

Kenwright described Moshiri on Saturday as “the perfect partner,” saying he had got to know him over 18 months, during which other potential buyers, including American investors John Jay Moores and Charles Noell, considered making a purchase.

The agreement with Moshiri includes a commitment to the manager, Roberto Martínez, to provide significant money for the playing squad this summer. Moshiri’s financial resources are also considered important to Everton’s long search for a modernised stadium, with a new site at nearby Walton Hall Park, or rebuilding Goodison Park, the two current possibilities.

Moshiri is known in football for his alliance with the Uzbek-Russian investor Alisher Usmanov in the joint 30% ownership of Arsenal, which they began to accumulate in 2007. Last weekend the pair announced that Usmanov had bought Moshiri’s 15% stake outright, for a price thought to be around £146m.

A source close to Usmanov and Moshiri said Usmanov is an Arsenal fan who wanted to own the stake himself, as he continues to covet a majority shareholding which is not on offer from the club’s majority shareholder, the US investor Stan Kroenke. Selling to Usmanov freed Moshiri to make his investment in Everton.

Usmanov and Moshiri are long-term partners, a relationship which began when Moshiri, a chartered accountant, began to advise Usmanov as a client. Moshiri came to England when his family left Iran before the 1979 revolution; he worked as an accountant at Deloitte, then in 1993 moved to work full time for one of Usmanov’s investment companies, Middlesex Holdings.

Usmanov has since amassed a multi-billion pound fortune rooted in Metalloinvest, Russia’s largest iron ore miner, and he is reported to have granted Moshiri a 10% stake in the holding company in 2008. Other noted investments by the pair include a stake in Facebook sold at a profit said to be in the billions, current stakes in Russian telecommunications, and digital companies including Spotify and Airbnb.

The Premier League is expected to pass Moshiri under its fit-and-proper-person owners and directors test next week, clearing the 49.9% purchase.


David Conn

The GuardianTramp

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