American investor Matthew Pauls keen on Sunderland AFC takeover deal
American investor Matthew Pauls is interested in striking a takeover deal for Sunderland AFC.
National reports over the weekend have suggested that Pauls – who has previously managed hedge funds from his Washington DC base – is preparing a bid to rival that of Juan Sartori and Kyril Louis-Dreyfus.
And The Echo understands that Pauls’ interest in the club is indeed genuine, with the financier having spent several weeks based in London in a bid to assemble a package to purchase the club.
Pauls is understood to be working with a fellow Washington DC-based investor on the deal and a representative of the duo visited Wearside in the summer, where they were shown around the Academy of Light and Stadium of Light by a club official.
Sources close to the bid insist that Pauls and his associates have the money to finance a deal, and it is understood that were an agreement to be reached then Stewart Donald would retain a shareholding in the club.
But the business plan assembled by the American group would see Pauls, a former college soccer player, appointed as chairman.
While Pauls is keen to strike a deal, Juan Sartori and Kyril Louis-Dreyfus’ takeover proposal is thought to be the more advanced bid – with reports in both England and France suggesting that the duo’s bid could be rubber-stamped by early December.
Louis-Dreyfus, whose family are worth close to $6.4billion, would take a majority share under their proposal – while Donald's shareholding would be reduced to 15 per cent.
Sartori and Louis-Dreyfus are understood to have already had a bid accepted by Donald, with the duo in a period of exclusivity with the club as they bid to get a deal done.
Pauls’ interest in the club has not yet reached such an advanced stage, and were a deal to be struck then he would need to have a bid accepted, a period of exclusivity enacted and then go through the process of due diligence - which can take a number of weeks, if not months.
Speaking earlier this month, chief executive Jim Rodwell said there was only one party who had shown Donald proof of funds during the latest round of takeover talks.
"The party that we're in exclusivity with have shown us proof of funds - and they're the only people to actually do so,” said Rodwell.
"Lots of people are all over the internet claiming they're close to buying the football club, but only one party has ever shown us proof of funds and given us a credible plan to take the football club forward - and that's the party that we're currently in exclusivity with.
"They've been uber-professional throughout the period but the simple fact remains - we are in a COVID world. We haven't got fans in the stadium, we haven't got a bailout at the moment and it's making matters very difficult. Until we get some kind of certainty from probably government, these matters are going to progress I guess.”