Forest's new owners to float within months

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The Independent Online
The new owners of Nottingham Forest plan to float the football club "in the next few months" with a valuation at the top end of the pounds 30m-pounds 50m bracket.

The comments came yesterday from Nigel Wray, the chairman of the Trocadero and Burford property groups, whose consortium won control of Forest in a pounds 19.3m deal on Monday night.

He said accountants KPMG were already at the club preparing Forest's accounts and a finance director was being sought.

Mr Wray, who also owns the Saracens rugby club, said he would only be a non-executive director of Forest. Existing chairman Irving Korn will remain in post while Phil Soar, the former Blenheim Exhibitions chief executive, will become chief executive. Irving Scholar, the former Tottenham Hotspur chairman, will not be a director but will act as an adviser on football matters.

Mr Wray said he had no current plans to expand Forest into rugby or other leisure areas. "The priority is to stay in the Premier League and move our way up."

Under the structure of the Forest deal, Mr Wray will be the largest single shareholder in the club with a stake of 27.4 per cent. Irving Scholar will have 16.2 per cent. Julian Markham, chairman of the Glengate property group, will have 14.6 per cent, and Nick Leslau, Mr Wray's key business partner and chief executive of both Trocadero and Burford, will hold 10 per cent. Singer & Friedlander, the merchant bank, holds 10 per cent and the Football Fund, a football investment trust launched earlier this month by Singer & Friedlander, has just under 5 per cent. Phil Soar will have 1.8 per cent.

Mr Wray, who admits he is more of a rugby man and a lapsed Tottenham Hotspur supporter, said he had been attracted to the Forest deal by the underlying value of the club. He pointed to its solid support, which includes 18,000 season ticket holders. "It is a club with a good solid base," he said.

He said he had not spoken to Forest manager Stuart Pearce ahead of the deal as he had not thought it appropriate.

The victory of the consortium ended a six-month battle for control of the club.

Sport, page 28