Porterbrook millionaire set to bid for Forest

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The Independent Online
Sandy Anderson, the managing director of Porterbrook Leasing who made pounds 33m from its sale to Stagecoach in the summer, is set to make a bid for Nottingham Forest, the struggling Premiership football club.

Mr Anderson, a Scot who lives in Nottingham and supports the club, is expected to join a consortium of local businessmen which is battling for control of the club. The consortium is led by accountants Stoy Hayward and is offering around pounds 15m.

Mr Anderson said yesterday: "I've expressed a personal interest in Forest. At the moment I am keenly watching the situation. I'm not involved with any of the groups at the moment but that opportunity might arise at some point." An announcement is expected on Monday.

It is understood that Mr Anderson has already held discussions with Stoy Hayward which had let it be known that it was seeking other investors. The consortium includes five or six other local businessmen

Final bids for Forest were due in last Friday with the board set to nominate its preferred bidder any day. It is understood there is a split in the Forest camp with the board preferring the pounds 12m bid put forward by ex-Tottenham chairman Irving Scholar, former Blenheim exhibitions founder Lawrie Lewis and local businessman and author Phil Soar, while the advisers, Price Waterhouse lean towards the Stoy Hayward offer.

The final decision will be made by Forest's 209 shareholders, who each own a single share in the club.

Mr Anderson was a key beneficiary of the spectacular pounds 80m windfall gains secured by a small group of directors in August when Porterbrook, a train leasing company, was sold for pounds 475m to Stagecoach just six months after a management buyout.

His involvement could be a key factor in determining the outcome of the lengthy bid battle for Forest, which is desperately in need of funds and currently lies bottom of the Premiership. As a fan who regularly attends games at the City ground, he might prove a popular choice both with Forest's board and shareholders and also the fans.

Forest's advisers, Price Waterhouse, issued a statement last night saying the club's board was reviewing final bids. Nigel Crockford, the firm's corporate finance partner, said: "The board is still in discussions with the final parties to clarify their intentions. However, a preferred bidder is expected to be selected shortly." The board would give notice next week of an emergency general meeting to adopt new articles of association to enable a bid to proceed.

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