Roman Abramovich remains as committed to Chelsea as ever despite reports that he is exploring the possibility of selling the club for more than £2 billion, ESPN reports.
A report in the Sunday Times claimed Abramovich has enlisted Joe Ravitch from New York-based investment bank the Raine Group to advise on a strategic review after rejecting takeover bids from British chemicals tycoon Sir Jim Ratcliffe and Silver Lake Partners, a US private equity firm, earlier this year.
Raine advised Manchester City’s owners on the sale of a minority stake to Chinese investors, and the Sunday Times reported that Abramovich rebuffed Ratcliffe and Silver Lake because he is holding out for a higher offer.
But ESPN reports Chelsea that, just as when news of Ratcliffe’s interest first surfaced earlier this year, Abramovich has no intention of selling Chelsea and remains as determined as ever to back the club’s push for major silverware in the years to come.
Abramovich’s future as Chelsea owner became the subject of intense speculation after the UK government declined to extend his Tier-1 investor visa this summer, effectively refusing him permission to enter the UK. The decision was made amid heightened political tensions between the UK and Russia.
He responded by putting the proposed £1bn redevelopment of Stamford Bridge on indefinite hold, citing an “unfavourable investment climate.”
Being granted Israeli citizenship in May affords Abramovich the right to enter the UK without requiring a visa, but he is not allowed to conduct anything that may be interpreted as business and it is unclear whether activities relating to his ownership of Chelsea would be classed as such.
Since buying Chelsea for £150m in 2003, Abramovich’s vast wealth has bankrolled a golden era that has yielded 15 major trophies. He has invested around £1.1bn in the club, which now stands as an interest-free loan to holding company Fordstam Limited, theoretically repayable on 18 months’ notice.