Roman Abramovich has instructed American bank the Raine Group to handle the sale of Chelsea.
It is understood that the Russian is targeting American buyers as investment from China, the Far East and Eastern Europe has dried up for clear political reasons, although there are major doubts that any potential buyer will meet his £3billion valuation.
The Raine Group first acted for Chelsea in 2018 after talks with US private equity firm Silverlake and British billionaire Jim Ratcliffe broke up without reaching an agreement.
The club has effectively been for sale ever since due to Abramovich’s conflict with the UK government after the Home Office declined to issue him a visa, with Russia’s invasion of Ukraine giving him fresh impetus to sell.
Chelsea declined to comment.
Roman Abramovich wants a minimum of £3billion to sell Chelsea as he invites bids for the club.
But there are emerging doubts that the Russian oligarch will receive anywhere near that mark.
There is a sense that securing an American buyer, potentially through a hedge fund, might be the best route towards a sale. But Abramovich’s links with a Russian regime that has caused so much destruction in Ukraine could lead to reluctance from interested parties to deal with Chelsea.
Swiss billionaire Hansjorg Wyss, worth £4.3bn, claims he has been approached to consider buying Chelsea, potentially as part of a consortium.
Roman Abramovich has put Chelsea up for sale and wants around £3billion for the club
Chelsea believe a sale to a US tycoon is their best route as they look for a new owner
Swiss billionaire Hansjorg Wyss (R) says he could form part of a consortium to purchase the club
Speaking to Swiss newspaper Blick, Wyss said: ‘Like all other oligarchs, he (Abramovich) is also in a panic. Abramovich is trying to sell all his villas in England. He also wants to get rid of Chelsea quickly. I and three other people received an offer on Tuesday to buy Chelsea from Abramovich.
‘I have to wait four to five days now. Abramovich is currently asking far too much. You know, Chelsea owe him £2bn.
‘As of today, we don’t know the exact selling price. I can well imagine starting at Chelsea with partners. But I have to examine the general conditions first. But what I can already say: I’m definitely not doing something like this alone. If I buy Chelsea, then with a consortium consisting of six to seven investors.’
However, there is doubt whether a consortium style takeover would have longevity given the huge financial demands expected at a club the size of Chelsea.
Nevertheless, it is clear now that Abramovich is preparing his Chelsea exit strategy.
It emerged on Tuesday that Abramovich is trying to sell his portfolio of London properties.
Abramovich is also looking to offload his £200million London property portfolio within days, including his 15-bedroom mansion at Kensington Palace Gardens, valued at more than £150 million. The property sits on a road between several embassies and is guarded at each end
The Russian’s portfolio also includes a £22m three-storey penthouse at the Chelsea waterfront
And Sportsmail has now learned that the Russian oligarch has spent time in the United Arab Emirates in recent weeks with a view to transferring part of his wealth there.
But any hopes of a quick sale of Chelsea remains in the balance due to what will be a reluctance of any interested parties to go anywhere near the absolute minimum £3bn Abramovich wants.
Sources claim Abramovich believes Chelsea is worth north of £3bn – as much as £4bn – but the likelihood of receiving such offers appears remote.
It seems inevitable that the Russian businessman will have to lower his expectations, but whether anyone is willing to offer as high as the £3bn that he would consider is unclear.
WHO IS HANSJORG WYSS?
Hansjorg Wyss, 86, is a Swiss billionaire who founded Synthes USA – a medical device manufacturer – in 1977.
Synthes USA is the world’s largest maker of implants to mend bone fractures.
Wyss sold the company to Johnson & Johnson in 2012 in a deal worth $20.2bn (£15.2bn). Synthes is now part of their DePuy division.
In 2017, DePuy Synthes launched its Titanium 3-D Printed Implants for use in facial reconstruction.
According to Forbes, Wyss has a net worth of $5.8bn (£4.3bn) as of 2021. He now holds stakes in biotech firms NovoCure and Molecular Partners.
Wyss has donated hundreds of millions of dollars to environmental charities and has more recently pledged money to politically progressive causes.
Forbes says that Wyss is ‘among the most philanthropic people in the world’.
In 2013, he signed The Giving Pledge, thereby agreeing to give away the majority of his fortune. Other pledgers include Elon Musk, Mark Zuckerberg and Warren Buffett.
The 86-year-old has no record of owning a football club or investing in sport.
Abramovich attempted to step back from the daily running of Chelsea on Saturday, in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
The Blues boss has tried to hand the ‘stewardship and care’ of Chelsea to the club’s charitable foundation trustees.
That led the Charity Commission to contact the Stamford Bridge club for more detail on Abramovich’s plans, after several of the trustees raised concerns over technicalities.
Labour MP Chris Bryant has called for the UK Government to impose sanctions on Abramovich after a number of Russian oligarchs have already fallen under such penalties.
Abramovich is understood to have attempted to hand control of Chelsea to the foundation trustees in a bid to protect the club.
The Chelsea owner would not receive any protection from sanctions through stepping away from daily control at Stamford Bridge.
Sportsmail revealed on Tuesday that Chelsea trustees will insist on an impenetrable indemnity policy before agreeing to Abramovich’s plan to pass over stewardship of the club to its charitable foundation.
Abramovich’s proposal, which was announced on Saturday night, is in the balance with a number of trustees extremely apprehensive about accepting stewardship of the Stamford Bridge club.
And Sportsmail has learned that one of the main conditions the trustees will insist on is the inclusion of a robust indemnity insurance policy to ensure they are not liable for any financial ramifications the club may suffer while they are put in charge.
As we reported on Monday, trustees hold a number of concerns in relation to Abramovich’s plan, which was sprung on the trustees with very little notice on Saturday night.
Conflict of interest is understood to be among the key apprehensions, while the morality of being the face of a football club and business that has been linked to the Russian regime that has invaded Ukraine is another major consideration for trustees.
Abramovich’s relationship with Vladimir Putin is under scrutiny amid the Ukrainian invasion
However, the sheer responsibility of playing such a key role within a business that turned over £434.8million for the previous financial year is known to be the leading concern amongst a number of trustees.
As we revealed, Chelsea has instructed lawyers to start building the legal framework to facilitate Abramovich’s stewardship recommendation and those individuals in line will seek a strong protection policy before agreeing.
During the interim there will be a period of status quo, which will allow trustees who include: Chelsea chairman Bruce Buck, John Devine, a partner at the law firm Muckle LLP, club director of finance Paul Ramos, women’s head coach Emma Hayes, executive director of anti-discrimination group Fare, Piara Powar, and the chairman of the British Olympic Association, Sir Hugh Robertson, time to consider whether they want to be part of the process.
Chelsea are aware of the problems they may face in convincing trustees and are said to be exploring other options.
Trustees are understood to be concerned over conflicts of interest which may arise from them holding stewardship of the club
Chelsea chairman Bruce Buck is among the trustees who have been handed stewardship
Sportsmail reported on Monday that Chelsea have been asked to prove Abramovich’s move does not represent a breach of the foundation’s charitable status.
Abramovich’s spokesperson said on Monday that the Russian-Israeli businessman was attempting to broker a peace deal between Russia and Ukraine.
Swiss billionaire Wyss, who founded medical device firm Synthes USA, insisted he could only consider a deal for Chelsea with a clutch of investment partners.
‘I can well imagine starting at Chelsea with partners,’ said Wyss. ‘But I have to examine the general conditions first. But what I can already say: I’m definitely not doing something like this alone.
‘If I buy Chelsea, then with a consortium consisting of six to seven investors.’
Elsewhere, Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel snapped on Tuesday as scrutiny intensified over Abramovich’s ownership of Chelsea, with the manager insisting: ‘You have to stop asking me these questions. I have no answers’.
Tuchel fielded several questions on the ownership ahead of Wednesday night’s FA Cup trip to Luton before eventually saying: ‘Listen, listen, listen you have to stop, I’m not a politician.
‘You have to stop, honestly, I can only repeat it and I feel bad to repeat it because I’ve never experienced war.
Blues boss Thomas Tuchel gave an emotional response when asked about the Ukraine crisis
Ukraine war: The latest
- Russian paratroopers land in Ukraine’s second city amid heavy fighting
- ‘There are practically no areas left in Kharkiv where an artillery shell has not yet hit’: Interior Ministry official
- Joe Biden brands Vladimir Putin a ‘dictator’ in his annual State of the Union address as he bans Russian aircraft from US airspace
- Russia steps up its bombing campaign and missile strikes, hitting Kyiv’s main television tower, two residential buildings in a town west of the city and the city of Bila Tserkva to the south of the capital
- Russian forces push into the besieged Black Sea city of Kherson in the south
- Russian attacks leave Mariupol, another Black Sea port further to the west without electricity
- More than 677,000 people have fled Ukraine since the Russian invasion, the UN’s refugee agency says
- The UN’s International Court of Justice says it will hold public hearings on March 7 and 8 over Ukraine’s allegations of ‘genocide’ by Russia
- Russia blocks an independent television channel and a liberal radio station, tightening a virtual media blackout
- A string of Western companies announce they are freezing or scaling back business with Russia
- Russians race to withdraw cash after the introduction of capital controls and as the ruble hits record lows
- Russian-owned Nord Stream 2 goes insolvent after Germany halts the pipeline following Moscow’s invasion
- Oil prices soar past $110 a barrel, despite agreements to release 60 million barrels from stockpiles
- The World Bank prepares a $3-billion aid package for Ukraine, including $350 million in immediate funds
‘So even to talk about it I feel bad because I’m very privileged – I sit here in peace. I do the best I can but you have to stop asking me these questions because I have no answers for you.’
A clearly frustrated Tuchel then slapped the table after being asked for his opinion on the conflict and Abramovich’s current status as owner of Chelsea.
Tuchel earlier said his side ‘are calm at the centre of a storm… which we cannot control and are not responsible for’.
The German insisted the best he and his players can do is to ‘focus on what we love and do’ – as they did against Liverpool in Sunday’s Carabao Cup final.
‘I think we have a right to focus on sports,’ he said.
‘Everyone is aware of more important things and the situation is Ukraine is by far more important. We still arrived with two strong teams to play a fantastic match. We arrived still to entertain the fans with a match of maximum effort and entertainment. I don’t know what we could do different.’
Meanwhile, fierce fighting is underway in Ukraine’s second city of Kharkiv this morning after Russian paratroopers dropped in and attacked a military hospital before airstrikes targeting police, state agencies and the security service.
Part of Karazin National University was on fire early Wednesday with the building partially collapsed after a missile – seemingly intended for the neighbouring police headquarters or interior ministry building – struck the college’s department of sociology instead.
At least 21 people have been killed an 112 wounded in shelling on Kharkiv in the last 24 hours, governor Oleg Synegubov said, as an interior ministry official added: ‘There are practically no areas left in Kharkiv where an artillery shell has not yet hit.’
It came as the Russian army renewed its assault on Ukraine after punishing losses in the early days. Putin’s forces captured the centre of Kherson, in the south, overnight though Ukraine retained overall control of the city, while Mariupol, also in the south, came under renewed shelling and Zhytomyr, to the west of Kyiv, was hit by an airstrike.
Ukraine’s armed forces said Wednesday morning that Russia is ‘trying to advance in all directions’ but are ‘being resisted everywhere and suffering losses’. It estimates that 5,840 Russian troops have been killed so far – though that figure cannot be verified.
Part of the Karazin National University campus in the city of Kharkiv is destroyed after being struck by a Russian missile which was seemingly intended for a nearby police or interior ministry building
Firefighters battle to put out a blaze in Kharkiv as the city came under renewed airstrikes today, with an official saying there is almost no area of the city left that has not been hit
Russian armoured vehicles and trucks are pictured rolling through the centre of Kherson, as Moscow claimed to be in control of the city but Ukraine said it still holds key government buildings
President Volodymyr Zelensky, who has become a symbol of fierce resistance in recent days, decried Russia’s escalation of attacks on crowded urban areas as a blatant campaign of terror.
Since Russian troops rolled into Ukraine last week to achieve Putin’s mission of overthrowing Zelensky’s pro-Western government, hundreds of civilians have been reported killed.
Russian forces have carried out a massive bombing campaign and encircled urban centres, but Ukraine insists no major city has yet been overtaken.
A Swiss billionaire worth £4.3BN who founded a world leading maker of implants to mend bone fractures – and one of the ‘most philanthropic people in the world’ who has NEVER invested in sport: Who is Hansjorg Wyss, the 86-year-old looking to buy Chelsea?
Swiss medical magnate Hansjorg Wyss insists he has been given the opportunity to buy Chelsea as part of a consortium of ‘six or seven investors’ with Russian owner Roman Abramovich looking to sell.
The 86-year-old, worth a reported £4.3bn, has admitted interest in purchasing the reigning European champions.
‘Abramovich is trying to sell all his villas in England, he also wants to get rid of Chelsea quickly,’ Wyss told Swiss newspaper Blick. ‘I and three other people received an offer on Tuesday to buy Chelsea from Abramovich.
Swiss medical magnate Hansjorg Wyss (R) has been given the opportunity to buy Chelsea
‘I can well imagine starting at Chelsea with partners. But I have to examine the general conditions first. But what I can already say: I’m definitely not doing something like this alone.
‘If I buy Chelsea, then with a consortium consisting of six to seven investors.’
But who is this 86-year-old billionaire who has no record of investing in sport, how did he make his fortune and what has he spent it on so far?
Born in the Swiss capital of Bern in 1935, Wyss was raised in an apartment with his two sisters.
Wyss sold Synthes USA – the world’s largest maker of implants to mend bone fractures – in 2012 for $19.7billion in cash and stock
He received a master’s degree in civil and structural engineering from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich in 1959 before going on to earn an MBA from Harvard six years later.
After spells in textile engineering – including in different roles for car manufacturer Chrysler in Pakistan, Turkey and the Philippines – he worked in the steel industry and ran a side business selling planes.
Through that side focus, Wyss met a surgeon who had co-founded Synthes, a medical device manufacturer. Spotting an opportunity, the Swiss founded and became president of Synthes USA in 1977.
Now, the company is the world’s largest maker of implants to mend bone fractures.
Under Wyss’ stewardship, the sales team of the American division expanded and trained surgeons how to use its products, such as internal screws and plates.
He was Synthes’ worldwide CEO and chairman until his resignation as CEO in 2007, and was company chairman until Johnson & Johnson – the medical company which developed a Covid vaccine – acquired the company five years later.
Synthes USA is the world’s largest maker of implants to mend bone fractures
Wyss sold the company in 2012 for $19.7billion in cash and stock. Synthes is now part of their DePuy division.
He now holds stakes in publicly-traded biotech companies NovoCure and Molecular Partners.
Aside from the medical field, Wyss has been described as ‘among the most philanthropic people in the world’ according to Forbes.
The Swiss philanthropist (L) also has charitable foundations with assets of over $2 billion
He also has charitable foundations with assets of over $2 billion while, in 2014, he pledged $120m to two universities in Zurich – the University of Zurich and ETH Zurich where he obtained his first master’s – to establish a centre to accelerate medical breakthroughs.
Wyss has also pledged to donate $1 billion to conservation efforts around the world over a decade. Specifically, he donated the sum to the Wyss Campaign for Nature, aiming to conserve 30 per cent of the world’s land and oceans by 2030.
Away from philanthropic activity, Wyss has been in favour of higher inheritance taxes for Switzerland’s wealthy and is a member of the Democracy Alliance, a club of liberal donors.
There has also been a fascinating rivalry of sorts between Wyss, who supports liberal politics and fellow billionaire Christoph Blocher, who supports conservative politics.
There has also been a fascinating rivalry of sorts between Wyss, who supports liberal politics and fellow Swiss billionaire Christoph Blocher (pictured), who supports conservative politics
Should Wyes be successful in his bid to buy Chelsea as part of a consortium, it would be his first reported foray into the world of professional sport
Wyss highlighted the advantages of Swiss openness toward the EU and immigrants while Blocher advocated for Switzerland’s independence in those matters
Away from work, the 86-year-old is last known to live in Wyoming USA. He has one daughter, and enjoys hiking, skiing and backpacking, while he is also a hobby pilot.
He owns a 900-acre ranch in Paso Robles, California, and as of March 2022 he is ranked 451 on Forbes’ list of billionaires with a real time net worth of $5.1bn (£4.3bn).