Belgravia Group pull out of Newcastle takeover bid

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The Independent Online

The Newcastle chairman, Freddy Shepherd, finally got his way yesterday when the Belgravia Group pulled out of their move to mount a takeover of the club.

Shepherd and the club's manager, Glenn Roeder, worked to strengthen the squad in the January transfer window after his challenge to potential buyers to "put up or shut up" saw the remaining contender end their pursuit.

The Jersey-based Belgravia's announcement to the Stock Exchange came weeks after the Polygon-backed St James' Park Group dropped out of the race following months of talks. The Magpies later revealed the development had come after they asked the takeover panel to step in to end the uncertainty.

Belgravia said they had the finances in place - understood to amount to around £150m - but could not reach agreement on a price.

Their statement read: "Belgravia has been unable to agree a price and transaction structure, which it feels would have been in the best interests of those involved, as well as being in the best interests of the football club and its supporters.

"Belgravia reserves the right to announce an offer or possible offer or make or participate in an offer or possible offer for Newcastle and/or take any other action in the event that an agreement or recommendation from the board of Newcastle is forthcoming, or there is an announcement by a third party of an offer for Newcastle or there is a material change in circumstances."

The news was greeted with little surprise on Tyneside where it has become apparent that the willingness of former chairman Sir John Hall and his son Douglas, who control in excess of 40 per cent of the shares, to sell was not matched by that of Shepherd.

Rumours that a takeover could be imminent - there were reports that the Polygon consortium had clinched a £227m deal - have proved unfounded, and Belgravia's withdrawal has brought an end to the formal takeover period.

Newcastle's share price fell yesterday morning and by lunchtime, was down 6.5p to 64p. That valued the club at a little more than £85m, almost £15m less than at the height of the speculation.

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