Chelsea join market league with value of pounds 58m

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The Independent Online
Chelsea are set to become the sixth football club to float on the stock market when dealings in the company's shares start on Monday. Shares in Chelsea Village, the club's holding company, will be listed on the alternative investment market. They have been priced at 55p, which values the company at pounds 58m. Chelsea fans will be able to buy shares early next week.

West Bromwich Albion, the First Division team, is set to follow suit after its shareholders voted overwhelmingly in favour of a stock market listing at a shareholders meeting on Thursday evening. A prospectus will be issued in two to three weeks.

Chelsea are not issuing any new shares and is not raising any fresh capital. However, the club hopes to raise up to pounds 30m over the next five years to help fund a sports and leisure complex, apartments and commercial offices. Chelsea also hopes to redevelop its south and west stands at its Stamford Bridge ground in west London. A hotel and a supermarket are also possible.

The current shareholders are selling up to nine million shares in the club, which represents less than 9 per cent of the total capital.

Ken Bates will become chairman of Chelsea Village and still hold 28 per cent of the shares. Matthew Harding, the insurance entrepreneur who has injected significant funds into the club, will hold 25 per cent and become deputy chairman. Mr Harding will take charge of running the football club while Mr Bates concentrates on Chelsea Village, the property company.

Peter Middleton, chief executive of Salomon Brothers and former head of Lloyd's of London insurance market, is being invited to join the board as a non-executive director, even though he is an ardent Middlesborough supporter. John Gunn, the former head of British & Commonwealth, and Brian Baldock, deputy chairman of Guinness, are also being invited to become non-executives.

The other clubs which have sought stock market listings are Manchester United, Tottenham Hotspur, Millwall, Celtic and Preston North End.

Earlier this week, Manchester United reported interim profits of pounds 15m. However, on the same day Millwall recorded a loss of pounds 376,000.

Sport, page 23

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