Now Sullivan joins the takeover bidding
THE Ipswich Town takeover took another amazing twist last night when it emerged that tycoon David Sullivan is prepared to beat Marcus Evans' offer.The multi-millionaire's bid was thwarted as Ipswich have signed an exclusivity agreement with Mr Evans and are not allowed to talk to anyone else while his offer is going through due diligence.
By Derek Davis
THE Ipswich Town takeover took another amazing twist last night when it emerged that tycoon David Sullivan is prepared to beat Marcus Evans' offer.
The multi-millionaire's bid was thwarted as Ipswich have signed an exclusivity agreement with Mr Evans and are not allowed to talk to anyone else while his offer is going through due diligence.
Although Mr Sullivan, who is worth an estimated £600 million, could not actually lodge his own offer, the EADT understands that the Birmingham City co-owner is ready to step in if anything goes wrong with the deal and is also prepared to pay more than Town have accepted from the Marcus Evans Group.
City chairman Mr Sullivan was linked with an interest in buying Ipswich Town earlier this year but needed to sell his share in Birmingham City first.
Hong Kong businessman Carson Yeung is in the process of completing a full takeover at St Andrews after already buying 29.9 per cent and the deal is expected to be fully signed and sealed by December 21.
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But even if something goes wrong with that deal it is believed that Mr Sullivan will sell 15 per cent of his shares elsewhere, taking him below 10 per cent which would allow him to go into another club, and then stand down from the City board.
Mr Sullivan was unavailable to comment last night but a source close to him told the EADT: “David is gutted that the deal with Ipswich is as far advanced as it is. He would dearly have loved to buy into the club and would be prepared to invest a lot more into the playing side.
“It is a very good deal that Ipswich Town have struck with Marcus Evans but I know David would have paid more.”
Marcus Evans, who owns a multi-national corporate hospitality company, is wiping off the club's £32 million debt, plus investing a further £12 million with the ambition of seeing the Portman Road club promoted to the lucrative Premier League.
Ipswich Town chairman David Sheepshanks last night made it clear the club would not entertain any other suitors while they were still finalising Marcus Evans' bid, which they are hoping will be completed before the Blues' AGM on December 6.
Mr Sheepshanks said: “I'm aware that he (David Sullivan) has had an interest in the club which has been speculated in the media for some time.
“He has subsequently been informed that we are in a period of exclusive negotiations with Marcus Evans and he understands and accepts that.”
Mr Sullivan's business partner David Gold was also known to be interested in buying Ipswich Town after leaving Birmingham.
The duo have overseen a remarkable transformation at St Andrews over the 15 years they have been in control.
The club has spent seven of those years either in the Premiership or being promoted to the top flight and the previous three years in the play-offs so Sullivan and Gold have ensured Birmingham continued success but feel they have done their bit.
Mr Sullivan is known to want to own a club nearer his south Essex home and is a long time admirer of the Suffolk club.
The Sullivan insider told the EADT: “David feels Ipswich have a very good set up and has been impressed with what Jim Magilton has done on the playing side. He would have provided enough funds to ensure they had the push they may need because even with the money from Mr Evans they are still a long way off competing with the likes of West Brom and Watford.
“David stands by managers as he has shown with Steve Bruce who has enjoyed six years at Birmingham and I'm sure the only demands he would have made at Ipswich is to have the last word on transfers once the manager has pin-pointed the players he wants.”
Manager Magilton has already signed a new deal which could be worth up to £1m over the two years, keeping him at the club until the summer of 2010.