London :Poultry giant Venky's on Friday became the first Indian company to own an English Premier League club when it completed the takeover of Blackburn Rovers for USD 36.8 million.
A newly established British subsidiary called Venky's London Limited paid 23 million pounds (USD 36.8 million) for a 99.9 percent stake in the northwest England side and will make an unconditional offer for the remaining shares.
"The Board of Blackburn Rovers Football and Athletic plc (BRF&A) today announces the sale by BRFC Investments Limited (a company indirectly wholly owned by the Jack Walker 1987 Settlement) of its 99.9 per cent shareholding in BRF&A to Venky's London Limited, a newly formed company owned by the Rao family of India for a sum (including contingent consideration payable) of 23 million or 17.17 pence per share," a club statement said.
"Venky's London Limited will be making an equivalent unconditional offer (mandatory under the Takeover Code) to the minority shareholders, holding the remaining 0.1 per cent of the shares in BRF&A," it added.
Paul Egerton- Vernon, chairman of the Jack Walker Settlement Trustees, said he is pleased to be passing on the Rovers to the Rao family.
"We have been impressed with their enthusiasm for the Club and their plans and ideas for future investment to develop it further as well as their wish and commitment to preserve the legacy of Jack Walker. We are particularly pleased that the Club will continue in family ownership and that the existing management team at the Rovers led by John Williams will continue unchanged," he said.
"Over the last 10 years, the global appeal of the Premier League has grown significantly and it is only natural that, as we have seen at other Clubs, international ownership and investment should increase."
Venky's Chairperson Anuradha Desai said her company would work hard to ensure that Blackburn Rovers remains one of the best run clubs in the EPL.
"We are delighted, proud and humbled to be associated with Blackburn Rovers, a team with whom we share many values and ambitions. Going forward we plan to focus on leveraging the global influence in establishing Blackburn Rovers as a truly global brand.
"We will absolutely respect the Jack Walker legacy and will be actively supporting the organisation to ensure that Blackburn Rovers remains one of the best run Clubs within the Premier League. We are particularly pleased that the deal has the full support of the Walker Trust, the Chairman and the management team who will of course remain in place with our full support," she said.
"Blackburn Rovers is an historic institution that has won the Premier League and we want the fans to embrace us so that we are able to do our best in the interests of the Club." Venkateshwara Rao, Joint Managing Director of Venky's, said his company is committed to investing money for the club's well being.
"We are all truly honoured to be working with such an historic club and are committed to creating a long-term financial platform which the Club can use to realise its obvious potential on and off of the field. It is as a team that this Club has succeeded in the past and it is as a team that this Club will achieve great things in the future," said Rao, who previously valued the takeover at 46 million pounds (USD 73.5 million).
Blackburn Rovers would not comment on whether the new owners would pay off the club's debt that stood at 21 million pounds (USD 33.6 million), according to its last full-year results.
The club was relegated in 1999 and, aside from promotion in 2001 and a League Cup title in 2002, Blackburn has mostly occupied mid-table in the EPL since then.
It is 14th in EPL standings ahead of Sunday's match against Aston Villa.