Serbian buys control of EPL's Southampton

·2-min read

A new investment company backed by a Serbian billionaire has taken over English Premier League club Southampton and indicated they will be purchasing other sports outfits.

Owning multiple sports franchises has become an increasingly popular investment model.

Sport Republic, which has Serbian billionaire Dragan Solak as its lead investor, has bought the 80 per cent of Southampton previously owned by Chinese businessman Jisheng Gao.

Katharina Liebherr, whose father bought the club in 2009 for around PS14m ($A26m), retains her 20 per cent stake. She sold the remaining 80 per cent to Gao for an estimated PS210m ($A393m) in 2017.

It is not known how much Sport Republic paid for control but English Premier League clubs have retained their value. Newcastle, a club of greater potential but similar performance in the last 50 years, was sold last year for PS305m ($A570m).

Sport Republic's founders are Danes Rasmus Ankersen - who recently stepped down as Brentford co-director of football - and Henrik Kraft.

Solak, who owns a major Serbian media group, said: "My partners and I have experience in long-term investments in the sports and entertainment industry and Sport Republic has been founded to combine this expertise and deliver something unique to the market.

"Southampton has so many of the qualities we have been looking for in a major sports organisation.

"It has a great management team, excellent talent development, talented teams playing attractive football and a dedicated fanbase.

"We are delighted to be able to complete this acquisition as a first step towards execution of our investment strategy. Southampton will be a cornerstone of the organisation we plan to build.

"Our ambition is to build a portfolio of high-influence stakes in football clubs and other sporting assets across the world."

Ankersen, who until recently was executive chairman of FC Midtjylland on top of his role at Brentford, is chief executive of the firm, with fellow co-founder Kraft acting as chairman.

"We will be an active and engaged owner, but we will not be starting any revolutions," Kraft said.

With PA

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