The Saudi Arabia-funded £300m takeover of Newcastle United inched closer to completion on Tuesday as documentation lodged with Companies House revealing the name of a potential new club director became public.
On a day when lawyers representing Hatice Cengiz, the fiancee of the murdered Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi, formally petitioned the Premier League demanding they block the prospective sale, the emergence of the fresh paperwork indicated the deal could soon be done.
The sense of an impending buy-out has been heightened by the appearance of Companies House documents showing that Bander bin Mogren, the chief operating officer of Saudi’s Public Investment Fund (PIF) was added as a director of NCUK Investment Ltd on 9 April. NCUK Investment is a shell company established in January by Yasir al-Rumayyan, the director of the PIF, as a vehicle to facilitate the transfer of shares from Newcastle’s current owner Mike Ashley.
Bin Mogren is expected to join the St James’ Park board and it is significant the documents were registered on 9 April as that is the date it is believed the Premier League began applying the owners’ and directors’ test to the consortium behind the takeover.
The Public Investment Fund – a body chaired by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman – is the majority force in an alliance also including the billionaire-backed UK company Reuben Brothers and the financier Amanda Staveley. While PIF would own 80% of the club, Reuben Brothers and Staveley’s company, PCP Capital Partners, would each hold 10% stakes.
The owners’ and directors’ test is thought to have been carried out for almost three weeks. Although no 11th-hour hitches are expected, it could take another week to 10 days to complete, leaving only the transfer of funds to take place. Ashley has already received a £17m non refundable deposit.