Roman Abramovich Said to Approach Buyer for Chelsea Football Club

Roman Abramovich is selling his London properties, according to British MP Chris Bryant, and a Swiss billionaire said he’s been approached about buying Chelsea Football Club.

“He’s terrified of being sanctioned, which is why he’s already going to sell his home tomorrow and sell another flat as well,” Bryant, a member of Britain’s opposition Labour Party, said in Parliament in London.

Hansjoerg Wyss (a Swiss businessman) said that he was offered to purchase Chelsea by three potential buyers on Tuesday. Abramovich’s advisers at the Raine Group are seeking bids of at least £3 billion ($4 billion) for the club, Sky News reported, without saying where it got the information.
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Wyss told Swiss newspaper Blick that he’s waiting a few days and that Abramovich is currently asking for too much.

“He’s in panic just like all other oligarchs,” Wyss said in the interview.

The U.K. sanctioned over 100 Russian entities and individuals in its response to the invasion by Ukraine. Abramovich (55), has thus far been left off that list. But the Russian billionaire has been under increasing pressure from the nation’s politicians.

Abramovich transferred direct control over Chelsea to trustees of the foundation’s charitable foundation on Saturday. But, Abramovich is still waiting for permission from the Charity Commission as well as the trustees.

Bryant has said Abramovich shouldn’t be allowed to own an English football club.

A representative for Abramovich didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment. According to a spokesperson, Monday’s statement stated that Abramovich was working to facilitate an end to war in Ukraine.

Abramovich accumulated his wealth through dividends and the sale of privatized assets he acquired from former Soviet Union countries like Sibneft or Aeroflot. He’s now worth about $13.5 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. He bought Chelsea in 2003 and has pumped enough money into the team to turn them into serial winners, with the club winning last year’s UEFA Champions League title.

Following problems with his U.K. visa renewal and rising tensions between Russia and Israel, he put off plans to rebuild the stadium. He was granted Israeli citizenship in that year.

Abramovich, it is believed, owns multiple properties in London. Bryant was talking about the Kensington Palace Gardens estate. A person who is familiar with this matter said that Bryant also mentioned the Chelsea Waterfront penthouse.

Bloomberg surveyed U.K. property brokers and found it difficult to sell properties quickly.

Still, Russia’s warmongering has cast the opulent assets held by some of its billionaires—everything from high-end property to private jets and superyachts—into the spotlight as the U.S., EU and U.K. ramp up sanctions. Bryant and other lawmakers are pushing to expand their remits, including talking about asset seizures.

Suitors of Chelsea are on high alert over a possible sale of the prized English soccer club, people familiar with the matter have said, but previous reports that Chelsea was on the block didn’t result in a sale. Sky reported on Wednesday that an offer of £2.5 billion ($3.3 billion) was turned down this week.

Wyss stated that he can only picture buying the football team as part of an organization.

“I‘m definitely not doing something like this alone,” he said. “If I buy Chelsea, then it’s with a consortium consisting of six to seven investors.”

—With assistance from Tom Metcalf, Cecile Vannucci and Corinne Gretler.


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