LONDON: Egyptian billionaire Nassef Sawiris is behind a bid to invest in English football club Aston Villa, the club announced on Friday.
Sawiris is ranked at No.251 in the world’s rich list and is estimated to be worth $4 billion by Forbes. He has joined forces with Wes Edens, the co-owner of NBA’s Milwaukee Bucks, to make a “significant investment” in Villa, the Midlands club who play in the second tier of English football.
They have won the league title seven times and the European Cup in 1982, but have fallen on hards times in recent years, ending a sequence of 105 seasons in the top tier of English football with relegation in 2016.
Villa owner Tony Xia spent the close-season searching for fresh investment to plug a reported £40 million ($52.45 million) deficit after Villa were beaten by Fulham in the Championship playoff final last season.
He had entered talks to hand over some of his control of Villa to Sawiris and Edens' company NSWE in exchange for a cash injection.
“I am extremely pleased to have formed a strategic partnership with Nassef and Wes,” Villa owner Dr. Xia said in a club statement. “We have a common goal of delivering future success for Aston Villa and I look forward to working together to achieve this aim.
“To have come so close to achieving promotion last season was a humbling experience. In finding such strong partners as Nassef and Wes we’re gearing up to fight again and bring back the success that this Club deserves and we all so want to provide it with.”
One of three brothers, Nassef’s family’s net worth is put at $36 billion by Forbes and he is said to be the richest Egyptian in the world. He built his fortune in telecom and has a stake in Adidas.